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Published by the Press Syndicate or the University of Cambridge 
The Pitt Building. Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 irp 
40 West 20th Street, New York, sy 1001 1. USA 
10 Stamford Road, Oakleigh. Melbourne 3166, Australia 

<g) University of Cambridge. Faculty of Oriental Studies 1990 

First published 1990 

Printed in Great Britain at the University Press, Cambridge 

British Library cataloguing in publication data 

Palmer, Andrew 

Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier: 

the early history of Tur c Abdin. - 

(University of Cambridge oriental publications; 39). 

I . Turkey, Tur : Abdin. Christian antiquities 

I. Title 


Library of Congress cataloguing in publication data 

Palmer, Andrew. 

Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier the early history of Tur 

c Abdin/Andrew Palmer. 

p. cm. - (University of Cambridge oriental publications ) 
Includes indexes. 
ISBN 052 1 360269 

1. Monasticism and religious orders, Syrian Orthodox - Turkey - Tur 
Palmer. Andrew 

'Abdin - History. 2. Monasteries, Syrian Orthodox - Turkey - Jut 

: Abdin - History. 3. Syrian Orthodox Church. 4. Qartmin trilogy. 

5. Syrian Orthodox Church - Turkey - Jur : Abdin - History. 6. Oriental 

Orthodox churches - Turkey - Tur c Abdin - History. 7. Tur c Abdm 

(Turkey) - Church history. I. Title. II. Series. 

BX177.2.P35 1989 

28t'.63'09s667 - dci9 88-23457 C1P 

isbko 521 36026 9 




32101 020328314 

For FCai, Christiane, 

Rebecca, Molly, Thomas, Rosic, Isobel, 

and, above all, 


and for the 

people of Tur Abdin, 

especially my friend, 

Ken : an 

U ktowano, lo qodarwayno d soyemno le, 

d loweway li c udrono man nose d fayesno 

gabayye bu ;uro 








List of figures 
List of tables 

Preliminary notes 
List of abbreviations 


i . The Tigris frontier 
2, The sources 

a. The Chronicle of 819 

b. The Qartmin Trilogy 

c. The Calendar of Tur *Abdin 

d. The Book of Life 

1 Samuel of Eshtin: The hard core of a legend 

2 Marked ont by an angel: The foundation of Qartmin Abbey 

1 . The 'Arches of Mor Gabriel' 

2. Early buildings 

a. The oratory 

b. The cistern 

c. The wall 

The meaning of l Beth Shuroye 1 

d. The 'Temple of Mor Samuel 1 

3. The first imperial benefaction 

e. The buildings attributed to Honorius and Arcadius 
The importance of the benefaction for the date of the 

4. The benefaction of Theodosius II 

f. The 'House of Eternity' 

g. The 'Church of the Mother of God' 
h. The 'House of Martyrs' 

page x 















j. The 'House of ihe Apostles' 

k. The Temple of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste' 

3 Community and individual: Patterns in upper-Tigritane monasticism 
i . The succession to the abbacy 

2. The catalogue of holy men 

3. The common life according to John of Ephesus 

4. Monasticism in the seventh-century Life of Theodotos of Amida 

5. Evidence from Tur Abdin 

a. Texts and inscriptions 

b. Archaeology 

c. The relation of village to monastery 

4 Anastasius and Qartmin: The last monuments to imperial favour 

1 . Philoxenos of Mabbugh and John Sa'oro 

2. Commentary on the Syriac description of the main church at Qartmin 

3. The identification of the church 

4. Description of the conventual church 

5. The domed octagon 

Mother of bishops: Qartmin Abbey in the annals of the church 

Romans, Persians, Arabs 

Simeon of the Olives, founder of the prosperity of Qartmin 

The cultural and political context 

Athanasius Sandloyo, metropolitan of Mesopotamia 

Monastic rivalries 

6 The springs run dry: Spiritual and economic exhaustion 
Appendix: The early inscriptions of Tur Abdin 

A. Introduction 

B. A.I and the 'tablet' as an epigraphic setting 

C. C.t as the trigger of a fashion for building-memorials? 

D. A.2 and the dating formulas used in the inscriptions 

E. B.i-8: a village contributes to the cost of a monastic church 

F. A.j: an ambitious abbot 's memorial in moulded plaster 

G. A. 4 and C.2; the earliest epitaphs? 

H. Brevity and abbreviation in the inscriptions 
I. A. 5, C.J and A. 1 2: the outdoor oratories of Tur 'Abdin 
I. A.7 and the dates of the village churches of fur '■Abdin 
K. A.6, A.8 and C.4-12: monastic expansion at Qartmin 
L. B.o.,, D.l 4, D.15, C.i 4 and A. 9: monastic expansion elsewhere 
M. B.i i, A.I j and A.14: the decadence of the ninth and tenth centuries 
N. A. 10 and A.t 1: epitaphs at Midun and at Zaz 
O. Inscrr. P 22-32. A.20, Inscrr. P 63-71 and D. 1-13: epitaphs at $alah 

and at Hah 
P. Inscrr. P 93-116: epitaphs at Heshterek - a clerical 'archive' 
Q. B.i 2 and the calligraphic revival of c. 1000 
R. A. 15-17 and the lay-out and orientation of the inscriptions 

















S. B.i 3 as historical propaganda 
T. A.t 8 and an unregistered metropolitan ofNisibis 
V. A. 1 9 and the ascendancy of the village of Beth Svirina 

Secondary literature 

1. Works cited by short title 

2. Other works 

Microfiches, containing editions of the Qartmin Trilogy and the Book 
of Life, with an English translation, apparatus, notes and indexes 





g — 






Please note that figs. 49, 54, 55 and 56 were numbered 48, 63, 64 and 67 in a previous 
version, to which reference was made in advance of publication in A.N. Palmer, 'A 
Corpus of Inscriptions from Tor Abdin and Environs', Oriens Christ ianus 71 (1987), 
PP- 53-139. 








Map of Tur Abdin 

Plan of the abbey of Qartmin 

Small pagan attar at the monastery of Mor Malke near 


Plan of a pagan cultic site at Deralmin between the abbey of Qartmin 

and the village of Kivakh 

Arch at Deralmin 

West comer of the main precinct, Deralmin 

Cultic area at south end of Deralmin 

Stone possibly used as the base for a pagan statue 

Profile of the stone in fig. 8 and of two similar stones 

Cistern with triple vault, Qartmin 

The abbey of Qartmin in the fifth century 

Ruin now called the 'church of Mor Simeon the Qartminite' 

Crosses in stone, fifth to eighth century 

Ruins to the east of the conventual church at Qartmin 

The 'Dome of the Egyptians', Qartmin 

Interior of the 'Dome of the Egyptians* 

The 'Dome of the Departed*, Qartmin 

Interior of the 'Dome of the Departed 1 

Church of the Mother of God 

Interlocking cross designs 

Undeciphered 'runic* characters inscribed on stone, Qartmin 

Stone cross on the altar of the church of the Mother of God, 


Entrance to the 'House of Martyrs', Qartmin 










24 North vault of the 'House of Martyrs', Qartmin 67 

25 South vault of the 'House of Martyrs', Qartmin 68 

26 Arch of the former 'House of the Apostles', in eighth-century wall 69 

27 Vaulting-brick excavated in western ruins of Qartmin Abbey 70 

28 Wall with internal system, of pipes, Qartmin 71 

29 The 'Cell of Gabriel*, ground floor 98 

30 The 'Cell of Gabriel*, upper floor 98 

3 1 North-east corner of conventual church, Qartmin 99 

32 Plan of the charnel-house at Qartmin, now called the 'Old Library' 10 1 

33 The 'Old Library', interior, showing the columbarium 102 

34 View of the abbey of Qartmin from the south-west 103 

35 The Hermit's Tower, seen through arch in ancient enclosure wall 103 

36 Plan of the Hermit's Tower 104 

37 The Hermit's pillar at Habsenus 106 

38 Sketch of the Habsenus pillar 107 

39 Satellite photograph of Tur Abdin 108 

40 Cross in mosaic on vault of Anastasian sanctuary, Qartmin 121 

41 Sixth-century crosses from the Saffron Monastery near Mardin 123 

42 The Anastasian church, Qartmin: interior 1 32 

43 Two views of the opus sectile pavement in the Anastasian sanctuary 138-9 

44 Plan of conventual church and adjacent octagon 141 

45 Octagon now called the 'Dome of Theodora' 142 

46 The 'Dome of Theodora*: interior 143 

47 Stone-carved octagonal font in the Saffron Monastery near Mardin 148 

48 Stone crosses from Tur Abdin and environs 198-9 

49 The oldest Syriac inscription yet found in Tur Abdin 200 

50 Inscription dating the church at the monastery of Mor Jacob the 
Recluse, near Salah 201 

51 Inscription commemorating the Seljuk raid on Qartmin in 1 too 202 

52 Inscription frames with handles 203 

53 Apse-crosses from Tur Abdin 212 

54 Stone slab bearing inscription of ad 776/7 213 

55 The 'Old Library': interior 216 

56 Tower in monastery of Mor Michael near Mardin 219 

57 The monastery of Mor Moses near Kfarze 223 

58 Map of the Tigris and Euphrates basins 227 


o jo n 

2 3 




































b 1 






















































o 1 















3 8 

























Areopagite but a simple monk who was mistaken by an eighteenth-century prelate for 
the patriarch Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. That monk may have been Joshua the Stylite, of 
the monastery of Zuqnin, near Amida; but the text generally referred to as 'Joshua the 
Sly lite' is not by him but by an unknown author from Edessa, who wrote more than two 
and a half centuries earlier. It is the aim of the present author to make his source 
references self-explanatory, so that the reader can see at a glance whether he is dealing 
with a chronicle or a saint's Life, for example. If it is the latter, the reference shows 
whether it is totally legendary or approximately biographical; if the former, the reader is 
reminded succinctly of the chief critical coordinates. *Ps.-Dionysius' is here referred to 
as Chr. Zuqnin 775, 'Joshua the Stylite' as Chr. Edessa 506. The conventional names are 
to be found in the list of sources and in the index locorum. 

The first four chapters and part of the fifth form an extended commentary on the 
Qarttnin Trilogy. The Lives of Samuel, Simeon and Gabriel are combined in this text 
with a number of building records from the late fourth, early fifth and early sixth 
centuries. Such is the interest of these records that the corresponding archaeological 
remains must be studied exhaustively beside them (Chapters 2 and 4). During six 
months at Qartmin Abbey (now called Mor Gabriel, or Dayr al-'Umr) in 1 977-8 and on 
subsequent visits the author carried out the first survey of a whole monastic complex in 
Tur Wbdin. With better equipment and training, and with permission to excavate, a 
much better survey could have been made. 

To people the monuments and to reconstruct a model of monastic life from the 
fourth to the eighth century, sources from outside Tur Abdin were used, notably John 
of Ephesus' Lives of Eastern Saints and the unpublished Life ofTheodotos of Amida. In 
Chapter 3 it emerges that the coenobitic life, in Tur 'Abdin as around Amida, was not 
considered an ideal in itself, to be carefully distinguished from the eremitic; the 
individual ascetic champion, represented by the stylite and the recluse, had a place at 
the centre of the community of lesser monks, for whom his life was the very pattern of 
the ideal. 

Source criticism has been neglected in much of the literature on Tur c Abdin and the 
West-Syrian community in general. Here it comes to the front of the stage. Neither 
chronicles nor hagiographies can be treated as suppliers of straightforward informa- 
tion. Only by distinguishing levels of composition, sources and motivation can the 
historian assess the value of the constituent parts. One example from Chapter 5 is the 
identification of Daniel of Tur Abdin as the source for much of what Michael copied 
from Dionysius of Tell-Mahre; for Daniel enjoyed inventing tales of intrigue, in which 
anyone connected with Qartmin Abbey was invariably accused of the blackest 

The present study hardly trespasses beyond the confines of the Roman province of 
Mesopotamia and the Arab province of Jazira; yet it throws light on economic and 
social conditions in an important frontier region during its transition from a sense of 
integration in the Byzantine world, through the painful discovery of a separate identity, 
to the status of a distinct, but subject and vulnerable culture under Islam. There is 
comparative material here from fresh texts and inscriptions which cannot be neglected 
by the student of the 'Dark Age* between Muhammad and Charlemagne. 

For the history of architecture, not only Chapters 2 and 4, but also the Appendix on 



the early inscriptions of Tur Abdin contain indispensable new data. The Appendix 
combines an historical (often socially orientated) commentary with a survey of the 
epi graphic phenomenon in the region. Many of the inscriptions are cited entire; no 
knowledge of Syriac is required. 

A dozen of the sources are not yet fully published. Two of these, the Qartmin Trilogy 
and the Book of Life, are edited and translated on the microfiches published with this 
book. The manuscript from which the Book of Life was photographed is the work of 
Kenan Budak. Both editions are provisional; the Book of Life was added as soon as it 
became available, but it was too late to rework the end of the Introduction. 

I hope this will not be a 'definitive book': if I have done reliable groundwork on the 
texts and inscriptions and have enabled and inspired others to include them in general 
historical debates, my most important aim will have been achieved. Far from wanting 
to have the last word, I hope to make Tur c Abdin the subject of controversy, another 
rich field in which to test interpretations of Late Antiquity. The region is already well 
known to students of early Christian architecture, but my work should give theirs a 
firmer basis in local archaeology, epigraphy and text criticism. Illustrations of the 
archaeological remains have been provided, although reference has been made, where 
possible, to Bell/Mango, TA and Wiessner, Kultbauten, which the reader should have at 

My interest in the subject stems from my first acquaintance with the area in 1977-8. 
Samuel Akta$ (at that time abbot of Mor Gabriel, now bishop of Jut Abdin) made that 
and subsequent visits (in 1980, 1984 and 1986) possible by his hospitality, tsa Gulten 
(Malfono or 'teacher' at Mor Gabriel) gave me an excellent grounding in Syriac and 
encouraged my intention to write for the English-speaking world a companion to 
Dolabani's Syriac History of the Holy Abbey ofQar{min. 

My own formation, begun by my parents and teachers, was rounded offal Worces- 
ter College, Oxford. My cpigraphic and editorial interests owe a great deal to the late Dr 
L.H. Jeffery and to Dr M. Winterbottom; and I hope that the influence of the late 
Martin Frederiksen can be detected in my historical approach. 

After Malfono tsa, my teachers in Syriac were Prof. Dr J. ABfalg (Munich) and Dr 
S.P. Brock (Oxford). The latter guided my research with patience and wisdom, 'in 
sickness and in health'. There is no need to dedicate this book to him: it is his, for he 
planted the seed and tended the growing tree. Nor is it possible entirely to distinguish his 
part in this from that of his wife, Helen. No one will imagine that this makes them 
responsible for my mistakes. 

It is easy to name all the institutions that supported me, impossible to thank all my 
friends and interlocutors. The abbey of Qartmin, Wolfson College (Oxford), the 
Department of Education and Science of Her Majesty's Government, Christ's College 
(Cambridge), the British Academy, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 
(Bonn) have all made my research and my field trips financially possible. I have worked 
in many libraries where the staff were very helpful and I do not want that courtesy to go 
unmentioned. In the Near East one is shown manuscripts as a personal favour, the 
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch in Damascus (Mor Zakay I), the Patriarchal Vicar in 
Istanbul (Chorepiskopos Samuel Akdemir), and the late Rabban Gabriel : AIlaf of 
Mardin have put me particularly in their debt. Nor could I have done without the many 








helpers who assisted me in my archaeological and epigraphic researches. Most recently 
Hero Hokwerda travelled to Turkey and brought back with him a copy of the precious 
Book of Life, which was paid for by the Humboldt-Stiftung. 

Dr G.L. Fowden and Prof. Dr H. Kaufhold read the whole typescript of this book, 
except the Appendix, and made improvements and corrections. Concrete and useful 
suggestions were made by Joyce Reynolds, Prof. Averil Cameron, Kai Brodersen, Prof. 
Dr J. Aflfalg, Prof. J. Emerton, Dr Marlia Mundell Mango, T. Sinclair and Dr O.P. 
Nicholson. The following responded positively to my appeals for help in various points: 
A. Asjefo, Prof. Sir Harold Bailey, Prof. Dr R. Degen, Prof. M.-J. van Esbroeck (S J.), 
Dr N. Gendle, F. Graffin (S.J.), Dr M. Hinds, R. Jeffery, Dr H. Kennedy, P. Khoroche, 
Dr M. Krebernik, Dr J. Lowden, Dr Lyn Rodley, Dr M. Rogers, Dr Susan Walker, Dr 
R. Weipert, Drs Mary and Michael Whitby, and Dr W. Witakowski. I regret that two 
relevant publications by Witakowski reached me too late to improve this book: 
'Chronicles of Edessa', Orientalia Suecana 33-5 (1984-6), pp. 487-98 and The Syriac 
Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius ofTel-Mahri: A study in the history of historiography. 
Studia Semitica Upsaliensia 9 (Uppsala, 1987). Since my manuscript was submitted in 
[986, only minor changes have been possible. I have also been unable to take account of 
[L.] M. Whitby, The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on 
Persian and Balkan Warfare (Oxford, 1988). 

I am grateful to the Publications Committee of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at 
Cambridge and to the editors of the Cambridge University Press for encouraging me to 
write a book for this series. Sylvia Sylvester and Margaret Clements have typed it, and 
Drs. Jan Ginkel helped with the index. The last stages, while I was in Munich, Jerusalem 
and Groningen, were particularly difficult. Only a benign conspiracy between our 
friends, Kai and Christiane Brodersen and my wife, Anne-Marie, has made it possible 
for me to work with small children. It is with heartfelt thanks that I dedicate this book to 
them all and to all Turoye everywhere, of whom Ken c an, the son of Denhoof Kfarbe, is 
one. His family abandoned their ancestral home only when there were no other 
Christians remaining in their village, in 1988. 

As this book went to press, I heard of the death of Liesl Cornet, whose late husband's 
photographs adorn this book. Liesl and Hannes fostered my research from its concep- 
tion in Tnr 'Abdin to its birth, for they first showed me the monuments described here 
and Liesl had a copy of the proofs open beside her when she died. 

Andrew Palmer 




This book is not aimed at specialists in oriental languages so much as at historians. 
Consequently, diacritical symbols are kept to a minimum in the text. Vowel length, for 
instance, is only given in the index; aspiration is shown by the letter 'h' after a consonant 
or by the substitution of V and T for 'b' and 'p*. In the List of Sources and in the 
Bibliography, Syriac tides are given in a way recognized by specialists. In the text, 
however, I have represented Syriac words, where necessary, in a simplified form based 
on the West-Syrian system of pronunciation, with 'o' for 'a* and V for *o' and without 
doubled consonants. (On this last point there is some inconsistency, for example where 
a name, like Addai, is well known in another transcription, or where the doubling needs 
to be emphasized.) Syriac names are anglicized where possible, elsewhere they are given 
in transcription. The anglicized forms are given in the index with the Syriac transcrip- 
tion in brackets after them. 

The name Tur 'Abdta' is already widely familiar in that form (as opposed to TOr 
AvdhV). It is legitimate in a non-philological study to write it Tur Abdin' or even Tur 
Abdin'; in this book I have compromised by writing Tur Abdin'. 

Purely consonantal transcriptions are given in capitals. In transcribing Greek 
names, I have chosen the Latin form where it is familiar. Persian names are transcribed, 
as advised by P. Khoroche (Cambridge), according to the state of the language in 
Sasanian times. 


The Seleucid era 

The Syriac sources (most of them Syrian Orthodox) employed in this book generally 
date events by the 'year of the Greeks' (or 'of Alexander'). l These formulas refer to the 
Seleucid era, which began on 1 October 312 bc as far as all non-Melkite Syrians were 

Chr. Elijah 1018 also gives the Hijra year (ah). 


I — 



concerned, although the Me-scphyate Chr. John Eph. 585, on account of the author's 
long involvement with Cccsananopolitan affairs, contains at least one use of the 
Byzantine calendar year, beahmng on 1 September. 2 An example for the conversion of 
Seleucid dates would be .Vano] G{raecorum] 1024-312/1= ad 712/13, i.e. the 
twelvemonth between 1 Ocober 712 and 30 September 713, 

Chr. Edessa $40 contains adate for the birth of Mani, taken over by Chr. Elijah 1018 
and others, which is clearly of foreign provenance: Honigmann and Maricq show that it 
was originally the date of zhe beginning of Mani's prophetic career, according to the 
slightly different, lunar era of Sdeucus prevalent for some time in Babylon. 3 This is a 
quite exceptional case, which has no further implications for the chronology of the 

L.M. Whitby has established that a number of dates in Chr. John Eph. $8$ for the 
latter part of the sixth cennay are one year too early;* the same is true of one date in Chr. 
Qartmin 8 1 p.* My invesrigaiion of the date of the death of Gabriel of Beth Qus(an 
seems to show that the record of his funeral was originally dated one year too early, in 
ag 959.* These mistakes in ie chronicles give some credibility to Mingana, when he 
claims that 'the computasoa of ;he years of the Seleucids varied in the Syrian churches 
between 309 and 313 bcV NEsgana's immediate purpose was to resolve the 'difficulty' 
concerning the synchronism of the Nestorian monument in China with the patriarch 
Hnanisho c , which he anrarad to do by arguing that the Nestorians used an era 
beginning in 313 bc.' Bui Chr. Elijah 1018, with its precise parallel Seleucid and Hijra 
dating, in a manuscript widen is probably of the author's hand, is sufficient to refute his 
argument. As for his con^nion that the fluctuation of Seleucid reckoning was 'a well- 
known fact among Syriac scholars', it cannot be reconciled with the silence of all 
Mingana's contemporaries ca the subject. 

In these circumstances it scsns best to put irregularities down to some other cause, 
such as faulty conversion frco another writer's reckoning, or reckoning forwards from 
a falsely 'established' da^. v^n to an undemonstrable plurality of eras among the 

For the conversion of Hiira dates to those of the Christian era, I have used B. Spulcr's 
revised third edition of the Wuszenfeld-Mahler'sche Vergleichungstabellen zur muslim- 
ischen und iranischen Zeizndsang (Wiesbaden, 196 1). 

The months and the days of ±e week 

The months used by the Syrians were those of the calendar of Antioch, which 
corresponded exactly to ibe Julian calendar in the distribution of days (see V. Grumel, 
La Chronologie, Traite d'ir^a byzantines, 1 (Paris, 1958), p. 174. It therefore seems 
unnecessary to burden the reader with the unfamiliar names of the Syriac months. 
Given the year and theday in the month it is possible to calculate the day of the week, 

1 T. Noldeke, ZDMG 29 { I S~«i -. 5a; Bemhard. Die Chronologic der Syrer ( 1969), p. 1 1 7; cf F.M. Abel, 
'L'fire des Seleucides', Rene 3&asu; 2 (1938). pp. 198-213. 

* Honigmann/Maricq, Re d terz i a or ies Res gestae divi Saporis (1953). pp. 32-3. 

* Whitby. Theophylact*. p. ;— 3. 5: a. pp. 172 n. 8. 175 n. t; Whitby puts these errors down to faulty 
conversion. ' Whitby. Tbe occ? iag*. p. 194 a. 7. * See pp. 156-57. 

T A. Mingana. Bulletin of'j* 'j-jm Xriatdi Library 'Manchester) 9 (1923). P- 331. 

* ibid., pp. 332-3. 



even for the remote past. This can be very useful in checking the accuracy of dates if the 
day of the week is given or can bc inferred. The table I have used for this purpose is that 
given by E.J. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World (1980), p. 60, fig. 8. 


'Mount Masius* of the ancients' (probably also 'Mount Kashyari' of the Assyrians 2 ) 
included the whole of the limestone massif between Mount Ayshumo (Karaja Dagh) 
and the Tigris, most of which now belongs to the Vilayet of Mardin in south-eastern 
Turkey. 3 Theophylact knows the same region as 'Mount Izala'* and Sozomen men- 
tions the names of monks who lived at both extremities of it as leaders of the monastic 
movement in the region 'around Mount Gaugalion'. 5 'Beth Gawgal' and 'Mount Izlo' 
are both known to Syriac literature from the early sixth century onwards, but, when 
their position is more closely denned, both seem to be attached to the south-eastern 
escarpment between Nisibis and Azakh (see p. 74). Other parts of the massif likewise 
have separate names in Syriac, the parts around Mardin being known as 'the Mountain 
of Mardin', the western extremity, facing Ayshumo, as 'Mount Aghlosh', and the 
plateau which forms the interior on the east side as *Tur Avdin', 'the mountain of 
slaves'. East of Tur Abdin (as I shall write it), between Beth Svirina and Jazirat ibn 
'Umar, is a geographically distinct area which has been identified with the Melabas 
Hills (Syriac: Two d-Malbash, 'the clothed mountain', perhaps referring to the shallow 
layer of basalt which covers the limestone around Elim Dagh, an extinct volcano); there 
is some overlap between this term and Zabdicene (Beth Zabday). 6 In the north-west of 
Tur Abdin, above Sawro and Qeleth, is the range known as Mount Qoros; but there is 
no ancient evidence for this name. 7 

Tur Abdin itself is defined by a passage belonging to the most ancient and reliable 
level of composition in the Life of Jacob of$alah as a region lying between Mayperqaj, 
Arzanene and 'the frontiers of Corduene' on the one hand and, on the other, Rish ; ayno 
and Nisibis; 8 but this tells us no more than that it was a part of the limestone massif of 
Mt Masius. Another definition, in the Life of Gabriel, appears to have been intended 
originally for a metropolitan diocese, which stretched from the Tigris to the river Harbo 
by Telia; an interpolator, who did not know the latter river, added 'all this region of Tur 
Abdin', because he thought Gabriel had been bishop of that diocese and no more 
(Lxxxvn.o- 1 2 (references of this type are to page and line of the Qartmin Trilogy)). The 
third and most exact definition is found in the Legend of John ofKfone and cannot be 
dated more exactly than 'after 900': Tur 'Abdin stretches between Fenek and the castles 
of Sawro and Mardin in the west, and from Mt Izala as far as Arzanene in the north. 9 
The author seems to mean that these localities are themselves just beyond the bound- 
aries of Tur 'Abdin. That is certainly true of Fenek and Arzanene, which are on the far 

1 Strabo. xi.12.4; xi.14.2; xvi.1.23; Ptolemy. Geography, v. 17.2. 
1 Kesster, Untersuchungen, section C. 

* cf. fig. 39; the clearest general relief map is that by 0. Erol, in Hutteroth, Turkei(M)&2), fig. 26, opposite 
p. 94. * Theophylact, it. 1. 3-4. ' Sozomen. in. 14.30. 

» Whitby. "Theophylact*. p. 249; L. John of Shet, section 17 (cf. Ch. 5 n. 258). 
' Sachau. MSS Berlin, p. 814 (No. 266) jabot quriis (nineteenth century, cf. I. Armalet, ai-Mashriq 16 
('913). P- 5*3)- J-G. Taylor, JGS 38 (1868), pp. 28 if gives this name to ihe range west of Mardin. 

* I. Jacob, fol. I77a.s; summary, p. 7. * L John ofKfone, in Barsawm. TA, p. t6. 




side of the Tigris, and of Mardin; nor was Mt Izala, the southern escarpment, counted 
by early writers as a part of Tur Abdin. 

Did Tur Abdin include Hesno d-JCifo, a fortress on the Tigris opposite Arzanene? 
Hesno d-Kifo, as we learn from the Life of Jacob of$alah, had a bishop in the fourth 
century, whose jurisdiction extended as far as Salah and who resided in the Roman 
fortress with the governor of the region. One strand of the manuscript tradition 
preserves what is surely the original reading concerning the name of this region: Hesno 
d-Kifo was elevated by Constantius II to the capital of the klima of Arzanene. 10 
Arzanene was lost to the Romans little more than a decade after Constantius fortified 
Hesno d-Kifo; l * it was the fact that the Life of Jacob of Salah seemed to make a castle in 
Roman territory the capital of a region in Persian territory which made some scribe 
omit the word •Arzanene*. But what seemed to him to need correction must be for us a 
strong point in favour of this passage. What remained of the territory of Hesno d-Kifo 
after 363 must have lain on the south side of the Tigris. A bishop of the 'caste Hum of 
Kaphas' was present at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 . » * It came under Amida in the 
Chalcedonian Notitia Antiochena of 570, while Tur Abdin came under Dara. l J If Salah 
was in the diocese of Hesno d-Kifo while Hah was the capital of Tur Abdin, this latter 
diocese may have included only the east and the south-east of the plateau. (Perhaps this 
is the explanation of the absence of §alah from the early records made in Tur Abdin, the 
silence of which is not, however, necessarily significant.) 

By the 750s Salah was under the bishop of Tur Abdin, but that bishop, Cyriac, 
signed himself as the bishop of Hesno d-Kifo and Tur Abdin. 1 * This is the last sign of 
the old distinction in our sources. No bishop of Hesno d-Kifo appears in the official 
Syrian Orthodox Register of episcopal ordinations, which opens in 793 and continues 
into the late twelfth century. 11 

The southern and eastern borders of the diocese of Tur Abdin were identical with the 
international frontier, which will be described in the Introduction. This book is only 
tangentially concerned with what lies beyond that frontier. It has been less easy to 
isolate an area within the Roman empire. Tur Abdin is part of a geographical entity 
which stretches beyond its western edge and that edge itself is hard to define. It certainly 
did not include Mardin. The existence of the dioceses of Dara and of Sawro in the sixth 
and early seventh centuries (see p. 23) will have limited it still further as an ecclesiastical 
province, just as that of Hesno d-Kifo will have done in the north. Yet mediaeval 
tradition and native scholarship extend it as a geographical term to include Salah, 
Sawro and the territory of Mohallam, which lies west of the north-south road Kfar 
Gawzo-Midyat-Anhel. 1 * I shall concentrate on what was undoubtedly the diocese of 
Tur Abdin, but, at the same time, I shall draw on information from the larger regions of 
which Tur Abdin was a neighbour or a part, including Amida and its vicinity, to help 
with the interpretation of the fragmentary local data. Tur'abdinian monasticism, in 
particular, can only be studied in this wider context. 

10 L. Jacob, foil. 17&1.1, i8oa.l; summary, pp. 8, 11; Wright, MSS London, p. 1136, col. 2. 
1 ' Ammianus. xxv.7.9. 

11 ACO 11.1.1, p. 59(i-3i39); 111.2. p. 202 (11.2.131); p. 229 (1196149); P. 283 Ov.1.125); p. 341 (rv.9.141); 
n.1.3. p. 452 (xvu.9.153); cf. vi, p. 92, for further references. 

' *■ Notit. Antioch., pp. 75, 83-4; Fasti, p. 1 3. 

14 Chr. Michael 1195. ».23b. p. 470; cf. INSCR. B.l. 

11 Chr. Michael 1195, Register, pp. 753-69. 

'* Barsawm. TA. p. 167; cf. M. Slrcck, El iv (1934), pp. 942-9. 

r" 1 



Abbreviations used in the list of sources in the Bibliography and in references to sources 
in the footnotes are as follows: 







congr. byz. 

congres international des etudes byzantines 

congr. orient. 

congres international des orientalistes 

Inscr., Inscrr. 

Inscriptions ) 

L., LL. 

Life, Lives 





Scr. Syr 

Scriptores Syri 


fur 'Abdin 

Several journals and serial publications, as well as a handful of reference works, are 

Anal. Boll. 







Analecta Bollandiana 
Cahiers archeologiques 

Comptes-rendus de I'academie des inscriptions et belles- 

Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium 
Dictionnaire d'archeologie chretienne et de liturgie 
Dictionnaire de Vhistoire et de la geographie ecciesi- 

Dictionnaire de theologie catholique 
Encyclopedia of Islam/ Enzyklopddie des Islam/Ency- 
clopedic de I'Islam 

Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 
Journal of Theological Studies 
Le Museon 


F" " t" i £ ■ r r 

0C Oriens Christians 

Or. Lovan. Per. Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica 

Ostk. St. Ostkirchltche Studien 

Paul y Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Alter turns- 


PO Patrologia Orientalis 

R 0C Revue de I 'Orient Chretien 

ZDMG Zeitschrift der aeutschen morgentandischen Gesellschaft 



1. The Tigris frontier 

From the land of Katmukhi I set out and entered the pass of Ishtaratc. In Kibaki I halted and 
spent the night. Cattle and sheep and wine and bronze cooking-pots, the tribute of Kibaki, I 
received. From Kibaki I set out and approached Maiiate. Matiate and its villages I overcame. 
Two thousand eight hundred of its fighters I defeated in battle and much spoil I took from there. 
All those who had fled from my weapons took hold of my feet and I allowed them to continue 
living in their villages. I laid upon them in greater quantity taxes and tribute and agents of 
administration, t caused an image of my person to be made and I wrote on it the victory of my 
strength and set it up in Matiate. I overcame Bunnu and the fortress of Masula and two villages 
near it. I defeated three hundred of their fighters. I took booty and set fire to the villages. From 
Matiate I set out and halted in Zazabukha. where I passed the night. I received the tribute of the 
land of Khabkbi, catUe, sheep, wine, and cooking-pots, tubs and armour made of bronze. From 
Zazabukha I set out and in Irsia I halted and spent the night. I burned Irsia and received there the 
tribute of Sura, cattle, sheep, wine and bronze cooking-pots. From Irsia I set out and in the midst 
of Mount Kashyari I halted and spent the night. I overcame Madaranzu and two villages in its 
vicinity and I took them and plundered them of spoils. I set fire to the villages. For six days in the 
midst of the mighty mountain of Kashyari - a difficult country, unsuitable for the passage of my 
chariots and my foot-soldiers - 1 worked that mountain with iron axes and bronze picks. Then I 
caused my chariots and my foot-soldiers to pass over it. From the villages on my path in the midst 
of Mount Kashyari I received cattle, sheep, wine and cooking-pots and armour made of bronze. I 
passed Mount Kashyari and came a second time to the lands of Nairi. 

Thus spoke Assurnasirpal II, King of Assyria, when he crossed the plateau which is the 
subject of this book on his way to attack the region of Nairi, around Amedi on the 
Tigris. * The date of his campaign was 879 bc. It is by no means the earliest record of 
Mount Kashyari, but it is the most interesting. Not only are several of the village names 
still in use, even these types of farming and the same skill in metalwork are characteristic 
of the ancient Aramaic stock of Christians who are the hereditary inhabitants of the 

More important, perhaps, for our enquiry is the information about the route taken 
by an ancient army and the geographical difficulties it encountered. The Persians left no 

1 Kejsler. Untersuchungen, section C; I translate from the German. 



Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Rg. 2. Plan of the abbey of Qartmin (A.N. Palmer) 



50 metres 

Entrance to 
present enclosure 

complex (non-liturgical) 


Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

f E 

record of their campaigns in this area, where several times they thrust into the Roman 
empire in the direction of Amida (Amedi); but it is likely that they entered and left the 
plateau by the same route as Assumasirpal. That route passed very close to the future 
site of the fourth-century monastery which, through its archives, its traditions, its 
buildings and its inscriptions, is the chief witness to the internal history of Tur Abdin: 
the abbey of Qartmin. 

Qartmin (as I shall often refer to it, distinguishing the eponymous neighbouring 
settlement as 'Qartmin village') may have been built where it is to accommodate 
peaceful travellers; 2 its situation also made it vulnerable to invaders. It was twice sacked 
by the Persians. Yet, in the early period at least, there persisted the belief that the 
sanctity of the monks could ward off hostile forces of every kind, as the first bishop of 
Nisibis, Jacob, was widely reported to have saved the city from a siege by his prayers. 1 
Qartmin stood at a major gateway into Roman territory; perhaps this explains why it 
was repeatedly showered with gifts by the remote emperors in Constantinople. 

After 363, Tur'Abdin was, for two and a half centuries, the furthest-flung bulwark of 
the eastern Roman empire. The notorious treaty negotiated with the Persians by Jovian 
after the death of Julian in Mesopotamia created what may be called the Tigris frontier. 
Nisibis was ceded without a blow, leaving Amida the most important city on the eastern 
borders. Constantius had already fortified it, guarding the approaches through 
Arzanene and along the route of Assumasirpal with forts at Hesno d-Kifo and on the 
southern escarpment of Tur 'Abdin.* These new forts now became castles on the very 

It was agreed that the Nymphios (Batman Su) should mark the limit of Roman 
territory to the east of Amida, 1 but south-east from the city it projected into Persia, 
including Hah, Qartmin and the castle of Tur c Abdin, and returning along the crest of 
the escarpment to rejoin a north-south line a few miles to the west of Nisibis.* The exact 
outline of this salient is not known, but the steep-sided gorges of the Tigris and its 
tributary opposite the castle of Fenek surely formed a natural division of territories. 

Most probably, the frontier followed the Tigris eastwards from its confluence with 
the Nymphios and southwards through its canyon to its confluence with the tributary 
which drains the central part of Tur c Abdin. It then followed that stream westwards for 
a few miles up its equally spectacular canyon ('the valley of Gehenna') to the village of 
Hespis, if that is the Hiaspis placed by Ammianus (xvm.5.3) on the frontier. In order to 
rejoin the south-eastern escarpment of Tur { Abdin, another natural fence, it had to cross 
a featureless field of basalt several miles across, giving relatively easy access through a 

1 See Ch. 3. ad fin,; DiUemann imagines the monks 'ensuring the surveillance of the route which traverses 
the mountain from west to east' (Misopotamie, p. 229). 

* P. Peelers. Anal. Boll. 38 (1920), pp. 286-8. * See p. 6. » Procopius, Wars, 1.21.6. 

• DiUemann, Mesopotamia, p. 233 fig. XXXII, where, however, the frontier goes too far north of the 
escarpment. DiUemann asserts (p. 230), without evidence, that the sources of the Mygdonius were, after 363. 
in Persian territory and mechanically extends the frontier eastwards from those waters; but even if it were 
shown that the Persians claimed the sources, the frontier is still likely to have rejoined the escarpment, The 
supposedly Nestorian monastery of Mor Malke lies to the north of this line and Nestorianism is associated 
with Persian territory, but in fact there is no evidence that the monastery was originally Nestorian; indeed, the 
form of its church is distinctively Monophysite (cf. Ch. 4, n. 1 33). T. Cornell and J. Matthews, A lias of the 
Roman World (1982) is unique among the reference books in recognizing this salient (sec map on page 220, 
drawn by Michael Whitby). 


Introduction 5 

higher pass by Kivakh (Kibaki) to the interior of the plateau. At this point there was, in 
the sixth century, another frontier castle. 7 

There is no reason to doubt that the international division ran along the crest of the 
escarpment in the south-east. Procopius' description of the Castle of Tut 'Abdin (to 
Rhabdios) has led some historians to place it (like an ancient West Berlin) in an isolated 
island of Roman territory beyond the frontier. 8 But Procopius approached the castle 
from the direction of Dara by the plain. Between Dara and Nisibis he crossed the 
frontier, which was probably marked clearly on the road near the Persian border castle 
of Sargathon. 9 He then walked along a road which, he was told, belonged to the 
Romans, with the steep escarpment of Mount Izala on his left hand, learning to his 
amazement that the land on either side for a great stretch of the way was Persian 
territory. Opposite the city of Sisauranon (Serwan), about 48 miles from Dara, he 
reached the end of this corridor and found himself in the so-called 'Field of the 
Romans', an area of excellent farmland below the rugged escarpment on which stood 
the Castle of Tur c Abdin. The castle itself was about three miles from Sisauranon. 10 

This description in no way excludes the possibility that the castle could be reached via 
the plateau of Tur "Abdin without setting foot beyond the frontier. The road on the 
plain was used by the Romans in peacetime because it was passable by wheeled 
transport (Procopius described the escarpment as 'utterly impassable to chariots and 
horses' 1 ' and Assumasirpal II had found the plateau similarly rebarbative). The 'Field 
of the Romans' was presumably intended as a source of supplies for the garrison of the 
castle in peacetime, in return for which the Romans made available to the Persians a 
rich wine-growing village on the Mayperqat. side of the Nymphios. ! 2 The abbey of 
Qartmin also used the fertile plain of Serwan for its farming, planting a daughter- 
monastery there to supervise food-production and transport. 11 

Procopius gives the following outline of Justinian's work on the Castle of Tur 

Now, this area had formerly been undefended and without any visible sign of Roman possession; 
it had never obtained from them a fortress or a bulwark or any other benefit . . . But the emperor 
Justinian ... put a wall around to Rhabdios at the very edge of the precipice around it and thus 
made the place unapproachable to the enemy, with the help, of course, of the nature of the terrain. 
And since those who lived there were short of water, there being nothing in the way of a spring on 
the crest of the cliffs, he contrived two cisterns for rainwater, of which, by cutting many channels 
in the rock, he succeeded in making brimming treasuries of water, in order that, when the rain had 
collected there, the men on the spot might have to run no risks in obtaining a water-supply, thus 
making it less easy for them to be taken in war through being hard-pressed by lack of water. 14 

7 The castle of Mindon (Procopius, Wars, 1. 1 3.2-8, 16.7; Chr. Amida 569, ix.5, p. 96} was in the Melabas 
Hills, Theophylact's description of which (n.10.2-3) suggests that they were in the south-eastern part of our 
plateau (Whitby, Theophylact", p. 249; id. (With Mary Whitby), The History ofTkeophylact (1986), Map 4, 
adfinem); there isa suitable tell some mites to the east of Midun, the name of which village is probably derived 
(ND-*DD) from that of the castle. 

* e.g. DiUemann, Mesopotamia p. 233 fig. XXXII, followed by Bell/Mango, TA. 

9 L. John of Telia, p. 74: soldiers come down from Dara to the frontier to receive the extradition of John. 

10 Procopius, Buildings, n.4. 14; id.. Secret History, u.24, might be understood as placing Sisauranon a 
day's march south of the frontier of Roman territory, but the previous section shows that the phrase is vague 
and means 'less than a day's march', besides which the steep escarpment below the Castle ofTur Abdin would 
have forced soldiers to take a circuitous route. »• Procopius, Buildings, 11.4. 14. 

" Procopius, Buildings, 11.4.3. 1J L. Simeon of Olives, p. 205. >•* Procopius, Buildings, u.4.10-13. 






Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

There is nothing to contradict the accepted identification of this castle with the Castle of 
Hay tarn (Qal'at HatemTay), first visited by Taylor, but Procopius appears, not for the 
first time in the Buildings, to have exaggerated the extent of Justinian's own 
contribution. 15 

A record preserved in Syriac in the Life of Jacob ofSalah gives the fortification of this 
mountain fastness a longer history: 

Now, Amida was loved by king Qusjos, the son of Qusfcwtinos the Great, above all the cities of 
bis realm, because he had built it. He subjected to it many regions, from Rish'ayno to Nisibis, 
Mayperqat and Arzan and, further, to the frontier of Corducnc. Seeing that these regions were 
near the confines of the Persians and that Persian raiding parties were continually coming up 
against these regions and taking captives, and that Tur Abdin was a region in the midst of these 
regions, he made in it two great and mighty fortresses to bring relief to these regions from the 
raiding of the Persians. One of them he built near the frontier of Beth Araboye, on the brow of the 
mountain; the other he built on the river Tigris, and this he called Hesno d-Kifo and made it the 
capital of that administrative region {klima). 16 

Constantius fortified Amida in 348/9 and Telia in the following year. 17 It is logical 
that he should have built at the same time a number of forts to guard the highland 
approaches to Amida, just as Telia guards the low pass between Mount Ayshumo 
(Karaja Dagh) and Mount Aghlosh. 18 The Roman castle on the latter was already 
deserted by the end of the fourth century and may have belonged to the same 
Constanttan system, centred on the defence of Amida. 1 * 

The Life of Simeon of the Olives contains a further record, giving the date at which 
the Castle of Tur 'Abdin was built and tracing its history until the late tenth century. It is 
clear that it has been tampered with by a writer without any conception of when the 
Arab invasion occurred, but it is equally evident that the same writer cannot have been 
responsible for the first date, which falls precisely in the year after the fortification of 

Qustanunos, the son of Qustanjinos the Great, built Amida and loved it more than all his realm. 
He subjected to it the regions of the East. Thereafter the Persians were prevented from going up to 
lay waste Roman territory, for they were no longer able to follow up the course of the river Tigris, 
Amida having been placed in their path. Then they began to launch their plundering campaigns 
against Roman territory from the plain of Beth Araboye. At once, King Qusjanunos com- 
manded his servant Demetrius [the general] to go down and build this castle in the year 622 of the 
Greeks (350/1]. It was called 'Demetrius* Castle', which is Qel'o d-Haytum. Once again, the 
Persians were prevented from coming up to lay waste the territories of the Romans. After a long 
period, however, the Persians went up and destroyed all the fortresses of Tur Abdin. They 
became very strong and mighty and drove out the Romans from the region of Tur Abdin, and 
Demetrius' Castle, together with all the others, lay ruined and deserted. Then, in the year 995 of 
the Greeks [683/4], [this] castle alone was rebuilt by Abraham and Lazarus, leaders of the region, 
through the efforts of the holy Mor Simeon, who asked them to assemble and send down to him 

" B. Croke and J. Crow, Journal of Roman Studies 73 (1983), pp. 143-59. 

'* L. Jacob, fol. i77a.2;$uminary,p.7.whereUicvananioftheLondonMSi4given.jiamiDgtheregion3s 
Arzan <cnc> (cf. p. wui). ,T Chr. Edessa 540, AG 660, 66|. 
'* Taylor describes this pass in JGS 38 (186S), p. 360. 
'* L. Daniel, fol. 98b.*, ioia.i; summary, p. 61. 




Introduction 7 

400 local men, stonemasons and labourers. With these he built it well; and the local people were 
all able to take refuge in it for a long time from the alarms and battles which occurred between the 
Romans and the Persians (!]. In the year 1062 of the Greeks (750/1} this castle was once more 
destroyed and torn down by Rumi, the leader of Tur Abdin, who reduced all its buildings to 
rubble and burned its gates with fire, because he saw that this mighty fortress was the cause 
of violent attacks against them. A little later came the Arabs, who destroyed all the citiesof the 
East [!]. Then again, in the year 1283 of the Greeks [971/2] this castle was rebuilt a third time 
by the governor Haytum, who called it by his name. 20 

For five years after the Seljuk raid of noo/i, when the abbey of Qartmin was 
plundered and occupied by Turks, Haytam Castle again became a place of refuge for 
the monks and others; it was there that the precious Book of Life, which had been 
carried as far as Nisibis by the raiders, was lovingly pieced back together. 2 ' But in the 
fifteenth century, as a Kurdish stronghold dominating the eastern part of Tur Abdin, it 
offered more danger than protection to the inhabitants of the villages and the tribute of 
wheat, barley, grape-molasses and raisins had to be delivered to it from the lands of 
Beth Svirina and Beth Man'em, in addition to blankets and various other products. 22 
Presumably, the Roman garrison had turned to these villages for supplies in much the 
same way when the plain of Serwan was closed to them by hostilities. 

The Syriac appellation 'Castle of Tur Abdin' first appears in the Chr. Qartmin 81% 
which records its capture by the Persians in 604/5." It is found again in the Life ofAho, 
where we read of 'Demetrius the Roman, who was in that castle to the south-east of 
[Aho's] monastery, which is called the Castle of Tur Abdin [sic]\ l * Aho's monastery of 
Bnoyel is to be identified with Dayro d-Fum (Der Pu-e), to the north-west of Haytam 
Castle, as local tradition and a nineteenth-century colophon in Azakh show. 2 ' This 
passage thus provides confirmation that all the names refer to the same castle. 

Tur Abdin, to sum up, was a garrisoned promontory of Roman territory sur- 
rounded by a 'sea* of Persian land. This is exactly how it was described by the eighth- 
century Arab writer Abu Yusuf Ya'qub: 

Before Islam, Mesopotamia belonged in part to the Romans and in part to Persia, each people 
keeping in its possessions a body of troops and administrators. Ra's al-Ayn (Rish'ayno] and the 
territory beyond it as far as the Euphrates belonged to the Romans; Nisibis and the territory 
beyond it as far as the Tigris belonged to the Persians. The plain of Mardin and of Dara as fax as 
Sinjar {Mount Singara] and the desert was Persian; the mountains of Mardin, Dara and Tur 
Abdin were Roman. The frontier between the two peoples was marked by the fort named Sarja 
[Sargathon], between Dara and Nisibis. 1 * 

The last great wars between the Persians and the Romans occurred late in the sixth 
and early in the seventh century. They were chronicled, most notably, by Theophylact 
Simocatta and the Anonymous Syrian whose chronicle was discovered by Guidi. In the 
Twenty Years' War (573-92), Tut Abdin played an important strategic role in the 

10 L. Simeon of Olives, pp. 207-8 [Dolabaoi, pp. iJQ-oo]; summary, p. 181 n. 39. 
" Book of Life, extract in Barjawm. TA, pp. 91-2; cf. p. 224. 

11 Chr. Added /JOJ, fol I97b.2, p. xliv. « Chr. Qartmin 819, AG 916. 
2 * L. Aho, fol. 184a; cf. Voobus, Aha. pp. 25-6. 

" 'Pray for our aged father, the monk Afrem, who dwells in Dayro d-Fum, that is, Mor Abo.* 
16 Abu Yusuf, p. 22; FT, p. 62. 

s~ r~ 



8 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

conflict. Theophylact, who treats the whole limestone massif from Tur Abdin to 
Mount Aghlosh as 'Mount Izala', describes the area and the people in the terms of 
panegyric, deriving, perhaps, from a local source: 

Mount Izala is very fertile, for it produces wine and bears countless other varieties of fruit. The 
mountain is densely populated, and its inhabitants are fine men; the mountain is particularly 
exposed to attack, and is a subject of dispute, since the enemy do not live far away. You could not 
persuade these people to leave their contentious land, either by threats or promises, even though 
the neighbouring Persians frequently encroach on and plunder their territory. 27 

There was even a native of Tur Abdin, Theodore, among the field-commanders of 
the Romans at that time. 28 At least twice, in the 580s and again in the first decade of the 
seventh century, the Persians penetrated deep into the interior of the plateau." 

The Persians finally conquered Mesopotamia in 613 and, although the emperor 
Heraclius won it back from them, it was soon lost again to the Arabs. In the years 
eighteen and nineteen of their new era, the 'sons of Hagar* took possession of the cities 
and the lands between the two great rivers, that is, in 639 and 640. 30 The international 
frontier shifted to the Taurus range and Tur c Abdin became a part of the vast Muslim 
empire. Its inhabitants remained Christian, however, and, in spite of the pressures of 
disintegration, the core of the ancient community survives to this day. The fourth- 
century monastery of Qartmin is still the most vibrant centre of culture on the plateau. 
In the villages, eighth-century churches, transformed over a millennium into forts, are 
still filled with believing worshippers three times a day. 

The inner life of this community is the subject of two recent books by Europeans, 
whose interest was awoken by the recent phenomenon of the Turkish diaspora. 3 1 That 
movement brought many Syrian Orthodox Christians to our countries. It is natural 
that their history, also, should be a fascinating study, injected with life by their presence 
among us. Already, the early Christian buildings of Tur 'Abdin had attracted many 
visitors; but only a few could also read the chronicles, the saints' Lives, the ancient 
documents and the inscriptions which give insight into the world of those who built 
them. 31 It is time to make that world more generally known. 

2. The sources 

The early history of Tur 'Abdin must be written from two main sources, the brief, 
annalistic chronicle which was composed at Qartmin shortly after 819," and the 

" Theophylact, n.1.1-2: translated by M. and M. Whitby, The History of Theophylact (1986), p. 44, 

18 id.,, from John of Epiphaneia, p. 274. 

" id., 11.18.7r; Chr. Qartmin 8ta t AC 916; Chr. Michael I toy, X.25&, pp. 390-1. 

10 See pp. 158-9. 

1 1 Ulf Bjdrlc lund, North to Another Country: The Formation of a Suryoyo Community in Sweden ( 198 1 ); 
Hetga Anschutz, Die syrischen Christen vom J&r 'Abdtn (1984). 

" Until now it was necessary for non-specialists to follow P. Kriiger. Monchtum, a work rightly criticized 
by Abramowski (Dionysius, pp. 95 (n. I), 102 {n. 1 )), and P. Dcvos (in Anal. Boll. 56 (1938). pp. 1 85-6). What 
these critics did not remark on is the frequent inaccuracy with which Kriiger cites both sources and literature, 
devaluing his work even as a mere collection of materials. 

JJ ed. Aphrem Barsaum, Paris, 1920 = Chr. Qartmin 819. 





Qartmin Trilogy, that is the Lives of the patronal saints of Qartmin. 3 * These are 
complemented by the liturgical Calendar of Tur z Abdin 3i and the so-called Book of 
Life, 16 to which is added other hagiographical literature from the upper Tigris region. 
For the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries a greater range of sources is available, 
including letters, chronicles, inscriptions, ecclesiastical canons and documents, and the 
literature of the Byzantine and the later Arab rulers of the area. Saints' Lives again bring 
invaluable revelations about the texture of society and economic realities; even the 
absence of genuine hagiography after the mid-eighth century is informative. The List of 
Sources is classified according to the genre divisions most important for our purpose. 
Broadly speaking, the Syriac chronographical material consists of laconic annals 
(Nos 2, 9, 10, 1 1) and more discursive histories. The reader is referred to S.P. Brock's 
survey of these in the Journal of the Iraqi Academy (Syriac Corporation) 5 (1979-80), 
pp. 1-32 (326-295) and to the work of W. Witakowski, cited at the end of the Preface. 
There is no satisfactory survey of Syriac hagiography as such; certain specimens can be 
classified as legends and are marked as such in the list of Sources. 

The analysis and evaluation of the majority of the sources will be treated in the 
course of the narrative, since their relevance is usually restricted in time and so forms 
part of the historical discourse. The Index locorum will enable the reader to track these 

Here I shall deal with the Qartminite sources, analysing in turn the Chronicle of 8 19 
and the Qartmin Trilogy, then adding a few words on the Calendar of Tur'Abdin and the 
Book of Life. The inscriptions are discussed individually and collectively in the 

a. The Chronicle of 819 

This chronicle was probably written at Qartmin not long after 818/19, the last date 
which is mentioned in it. It has a greater concentration of information about the abbey 
than any other chronicle, and contains several notices that are unique. Its relationship 
with the Qartmin Trilogy is complicated: it seems that the author of the chronicle knew 
an early version of the three saints' Lives, differing somewhat from our text. Con- 
versely, the later compiler to whom we owe this version inserted into it some notices 
from the chronicle, omitting those which disagreed with his developed form of the 

It was in 191 1 that Afrem Barsawm, who was later to become the patriarch of 
Antioch, unearthed in the village of Beth Svirina in Tur e Abdin a bulky codex contain- 
ing canons, partiarchal letters and a short, self-contained collection of historical notices 
spanning the years between the conception of Christ and the year 818/19, when Denis I 

J * These have been available until now only in the incomplete and erratic transcription of F. Nau, Actes 
XlVe congr. orient., u (Paris. 1 907), pp. 38-1 1 1. and in Sachau's summary (MSS Berlin, pp. 577-90) of the 
Berlin Paraphrase, my critical edition is appended on microfiche to this book. 

" ed. P. Pecters, Brussels, l908 = Ca/. TA. 

'* This is still unedited, though a copy of one manuscript is appended on microfiche to this book; see also 
extracts in Barsawm. TA, pp. 91-6. 

io Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

of Tell-Mahre, the historian, was consecrated patriarch of Antioch (August, 8 1 8, is the 
correct date). This manuscript was written by one Severus for his uncle David, bishop of 
Harran. 37 Now we read in the patriarchal Register of ordinations that a certain David, 
a monk of Qartmin abbey, was consecrated bishop for Harran by John III, who was 
patriarch from 846 to 873. 38 If these Davids may be identified, the manuscript belongs 
to the ninth century. A marginal addition shows that it was in Beth Svirina in I095, J9 
and it had presumably stayed there ever since. 

The chief source for the earlier part of the chronicle contained in this codex was the 
Chronicle ofEdessa, which ended in 540. Only a dozen of the 74 items before this date 
are not traceable to that compilation. On the other hand, only 58 out of 1 06 entries from 
the Chronicle ofEdessa are included, and it is unclear for what reason the other 48 items 
were rejected. 

Our chronicler shortens many of the notices, omi tting or corrupting several dates; he 
calls Ibas a heretic, while the Edessene writer has a word of praise for him; 40 an 
earthquake is conveniently brought forward one year and becomes the cause of the 
death, in Antioch, of Asclepius, a bishop of Edessa 'who persecuted the eastern monks 
and all who did not accept the council ofChalcedon*. 41 In his comment on this council, 
our writer shows his colours: 'the reason for the council was said to be the acceptance of 
Eutyches by Dioscorus. In actual fact, however, it was to reaffirm the teaching of 
Nestorius, attributing two natures to Christ.'* 2 

The rest of his material cannot so easily be traced. Edessa is named only seven more 
times, but one of these notices seems to show that its author wrote in that city: in the 
earthquake of 679 (ag 990), 'on Easter Sunday at the third hour, one side of the ancient 
church in Edessa collapsed'. To this (hypothetical) Edessene source we may attribute 
the other notices on Edessa and perhaps also the notices concerning the patriarchs of 
Antioch (our writer is careful to mention all Severus' successors) and other distin- 
guished Syrians. The author of it may have been Jacob (d. 708), whose chronicle (only a 
few fragments of which have survived) was copied for the library of Qartmin in the early 
eighth century, according to the Life of Simeon of the Olives* 3 The short biography of 
Jacob Baradaeus goes back to John of Ephesus. 44 It may be that the mistake our 
chronicler makes in putting the Persian sack of Qartmin one year too early was due to 
his reliance at that point on a chronological calculation from one of the similarly 
misplaced dates in John of Ephesus (see the note on Chronology). The unseemly 
ecclesiastical machinations which followed the death of the patriarch Iwannis in 755 
were the subject of an anecdotal history written in Tur 'Abdin by Daniel, the son of 
Moses (see Chapter 5, section 4), but, if this was known to our author, he did not follow 
its bias against certain bishops whose monastic allegiance was to Qartmin.* 5 
It seems that he also had before him a brief, continuous account of the Arab caliphs 

,T CSCO 81 (1920), pp. 14-23. 
" Chr. Michael 119$, Register X1X.26, p. 756. 

'» Chr. Qartmin 8t9,p, 22; I round no trace of the MS in April 1984, during a visit to Jur'Abdin (including 
Beth Svmna) and Damascus. *° Chr. Qartmin 819. ag 746. 
41 Chr, Qartmin 819, AG 836, ag 831. ** Chr. Qartmin 819, ag 76a. 
* 3 L. Simeon of Olives, p. 240 [Dotabani. p. 153]; summary, p. 178. 
44 Chr. Qartmin 819. AG 879. *» e.g. Athanasius Sandloyo and David of Dara. 



to "Abdullah al-Ma'mun; there is evidence that this was composed in the region subject 
to the governor of Jazira. 4 * 

Finally, the names of fifteen distinguished monks of Qartmin Abbey occur, along 
with a number of items concerning that monastery. We may assume a separate source 
for these, one which had its origin tn the abbey itself. 

The details concerning Qartmin are certainly of the sort to suggest that the author 
was a monk at the abbey. On the other hand, we have to bear in mind the methods he 
exhibited in adapting the Chronicle ofEdessa: a capricious selection of entries, which 
makes an argument from his silence more than usually weak, and a willingness to bend 
dates and facts for at least one cause, that of doctrinal chauvinism. 

The Chronicle of 846 derives all its entries concerning the abbey from that of 819, as 
Barsawm, the editor of the latter, noticed; 47 it cannot therefore be considered an 
independent witness. It does not include all the Qartmin notices, which might mean that 
the author was not himself, as Brooks had latterly thought, 48 a Qartminite; on the other 
hand it might simply mean that the author of the Chronicle of 846, although a monk of 
Qartmin himself, did not consider all the notices suitable for inclusion in a chronicle 
whose canvas covered a much wider area than that of 819.*° 

There is no mention in the Chronicle of 846 of the Kurdish raid of c.829, which is 
recorded by Gregory Barhebraeus; 40 since the Kurds were surprised by the Arab 
general in the act of pillaging the abbey and were routed in a dramatic manner just 
outside, I regard it as well-nigh impossible that any monk of Qartmin, however laconic 
his style, should forbear to mention it. Brooks noticed that the name of Harran 
abounded in this chronicle and was once inclined to attribute it to a native of that city. 5 1 
Now a certain Nonnus of Harran, a monk of Qartmin, was ordained for the see of Tur 
Abdin not long before the death of Denis of Tell-Mahre in 845 (he was 89th out of the 
99 bishops ordained by that partiarch)." When an inscription was erected at Qartmin 
in 1 105, commemorating the predecessors of Bishop Basil Shamly, Nonnus was chosen 
to stand at the head of it with the date 848/9, although the order of the ninth- and early 
tenth-century bishops is confused and Nonnus* predecessor is actually placed after 
him." It is possible that Nonnus was well known and dated, perhaps by the colophon 
of a book. If Nonnus was the last redactor of the Chronicle of 846,'* this would explain 
the ambivalent evidence as to its origin: he was not there when the Kurds plundered the 
abbey; Qartmin was more important to him than to his contemporary, Denis of Tell- 
Mahre, yet less important to him than to the chronicler of 8 19; and, as an outsider, he 
could call David of Dara a wicked man, where his source had passed no judgement on 

44 H. Buk, Byzantinische Zeiuchrift 14 ([905). p. 532: 'die Regierung Jazids III. und Ibrahims ist 
ubergangen, die nach Ps.-Dionysius ( - Chr. Zuonin 775] in Mesopotamien nicht anerkannt wurde'; more- 
over, apart from Theodotos of Germaniceia, only Mesopotamian bishops are mentioned. 

47 CSCO 81 (1920), pp. 24-23. 4 * CSCO 4, (1904). p. 121. 

4g It is no wonder, for instance, that he left out the skull-count of 443/4 (ag 755). 

,0 Chr. Gregory I. p. 144. 

11 E. W. Brooks. ZDMG 51(1 897). p. 570; reiterated by S.P. Brock in Journal of the Iraqi Academy (Syriac 
corporation) 5 (1979-80). p. 14. « Chr. Michael 1/95, Register xvm.89, p. 755 " MSCR. B.t3_ 

'* E. W. Brooks. Byzantinische Zeitschrift 1 5 ( 1906), p. 578: the chronicle was originally brought to an end 
in 784/5 and only briefly added to thereafter: what de Halleux has to say about the origins of this chronicle in 
Mm 9! (1978). pp. 5-44, is not relevant here. 

12 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

The following is an abstract of the entries concerning Tur Abdin in the Chronicle of 
819; to each entry is appended a note saying where the Chronicle of 846 has a lacuna or 
misses or abbreviates a parallel entry: 

ag 708: Qartmin Abbey built by Samuel, the first abbot, and his disciple Simeon, to 
whom an angel showed the plan and measurements of the foundations. (Thus also in 
846 with variant dating: 'One year and ten months before the consecration of John 

ag 755: Emptying of the tombs in Qartmin Abbey; 483 skulls found, together with 
the skull of Samuel, the first abbot. First to be buried after this was Mor John of Edessa 
(Not in 846) 

ag 795: Mor John Sa : oro, monk of Qartmin, ordained metropolitan of Amida; he 
built a large and splendid church of the Forty Martyrs and, outside the city, a bridge 
over the river Tigris. (Not in 846) 

ag 889: Death of Jacob of Psiltho and John Sa : oro of Qartmin Abbey. (Lacuna in 

ag 891: Qartmin Abbey, Telia, Harran and Edessa burned in a Persian invasion 
(Not in 846) 

ag 916: Castle of Tur Abdin taken by the Persians. (Not in 846) 

ag 926: Daniel 'Uzoyo," abbot of Qartmin, consecrated metropolitan of the 
amalgamated dioceses of Telia, Mardin, Dara and Tur Abdin. (Lacuna in 846) 

ag 945: [Death] of Daniel; succeeded by Gabriel of Beth Qusjan, who raised a man 
from the dead and performed many other wonders. (Lacuna in 846) 

ag 9..?: (lacuna; cf. Chapter 2, n. 56) and in the following year, in the days of Gabriel, 
bishop of Dara and abbot of Qartmin, the tombs were emptied and eighty-two 
(marginal note: 'eight hundred [and two?]') skulls were found. (Lacuna in 846) 

ag 101 1 : Simeon from Qartmin consecrated bishop of Harran. (Not in 846) 

ag 1018: Simeon of Harran built a church for the (Syrian) Orthodox in Nisibis, all 
expenses being met by Qartmin Abbey. Three times by day the building was erected and 
three times by night Nestorians and Jews pulled it down again. But eventually it was 
finished and consecrated by the patriarch Julian. (846 has only those parts in italics) 

ag 1030: Athanasius of Nunib electedabbot of Qartmin. (In <fy5also) In ag 1055 he 
was consecrated bishop of Tur Abdin and in ag 1058 he died. (Not in 846) 

ag 1045: Death of Simeon of Harran on Thurs. 3 June; succeeded by his disciple, 
Thomas, also from Qartmin Abbey. (The part in italics is in 846, but for 'Thomas' is 
subsituted 'Simeon') 

ag 1049: Death of Thomas of Harran. (In 846 also) 

ag 1066: Death of Patriarch Iwannis. Synod at Rish'ayno was told by the caliph to 
elect Isaac of Harran, a monk of Qartmin, as his successor. (In 846 also) 

The name Uzoyof Uaoyo is probably derived from a village called Beth 'Uzza (cf. Pognon. Inscrip- 
« « pp. 44-5). named after the Arab goddess al-'Uzza {J. Wellhausen. teste arabischen Heiaentwn,, pp 
■If' Chr ^ da ^' ""5; P- 78. line 3); such a village would not have been in Tur 'Abdin. but was perhaps 
in the nnghbounng part of Persian territory, Beth Araboye. where Abudhemeh (d. 575) had recently 
^ e "^ mc ^ c f Arab,n ^<>fM«oP0^a(PO3[.9O0|,pp .7-51). Fieydoes not mention such a place in 
nis works on the topography of this area. 



ag 1067: Death of Isaac at Aqula at the hands of the caliph. Succeeded by 
Athanasius Sandloyo of Qartmin Abbey. (In 846 also) 

AG 1069: Denis, monk of Qartmin. consecrated bishop of Harran. Death of 
Athanasius in Harran on 1 1 July. (846 has 'June') They took him and buried him in the 
monastery he built above Tell-Beshmay. (In 846 also) 

ag 1073: Caliph Abdullah forced a synod of bishops in Baghdad to consecrate as 
partiarch David of Dara, a monk of Qartmin. Death of Denis of Harran in Baghdad. 
(In 846 also, where, however, David is called 'wicked') 

ag io8o: Death of David of Dara, who was consecrated under the compulsion of the 
caliph. (In 846 also, which again calls him 'the wicked') 

The Chronicle of 819 is clearly of Qartminite authorship: 

(a) 1 5 out of 1 25 entries mention Qartmin. No other monastery is treated in such 
detail; and why should outsiders be interested in the tombs? 

(b) In an entry for ag 1047, those bishops present at the synod who came from 
Qartmin are singled out for mention. 

(c) The schismatics Isaac, Athanasius and David are spoken of without blame. 
(Contrast 846: 'the wicked David'.) These three men were from Qartmin 

Having established so much, should we go further and accept the authority of 
Dolabani, when he says that 'Mansur, the son of the priest Marzuq of Beth Svirina', 
abbot of Qartmin and a renowned scribe, wrote the chronicle? 5 * He does not give his 
source, although an abbot named 'Mansur of Beth Svirina' is mentioned in the Book of 
LifeV Writing in 1959, it is just possible that he had come across a source unknown to 
Barsawm, who died in 1957, having sent the second edition of his History ofSyriac 
Literature to the press the year before without emending his entry on the 'anonymous' 
writer of the chronicle which he discovered; 53 but, on the whole, it seems unlikely. 
Dolabani elsewhere shows himself capable of representing a conjectural identification 
as the plain truth. 59 

b. The Qartmin Trilogy 

This text survives in a manuscript in London, the lacunae of which are for the most part 
filled by two other manuscripts, both derived from the London manuscript through a 
lost intermediary. Other surviving manuscripts, as far as I have been able to ascertain, 
contain only paraphrases, of which the archetype seems to be a version in Berlin; the 
"Berlin Paraphrase" is apparently a Syriac translation from an Arabic version. 

Unfortunately the London manuscript, the fountain-head of this tradition, has lost 
its colophon. The script of the latter half is of about the thirteenth century, but the first 
half of the manuscript is older. It is written in an archaic form of the Plain Script. These 
letter forms were extraordinarily stable between the tenth and the fifteenth centuries, 

'* Dolabani, History of Qartmin (1959). p. 166. " Book of Life, p. 17. '• Barsawm. KBB, p. 425. 
" e.g. Dolabani. History ofQar(min (1959). p. 123; cf. Ch. 5. n. t02. below. 

14 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

but I should be inclined to place our manuscript not long after iooo. By about the 
thirteenth century the second half of the text needed to be replaced. It was written on a 
type of cotton-paper which was in use from about the tenth century onwards in 
Mesopotamia; though strong, this paper was of course subject to rapid corrosion in 
unfavourable conditions. Probably it was left lying on a damp surface. 

There are a number of scribal errors in the London manuscript which can only be 
explained if the autograph of the Trilogy was considerably older than this copy; 
probably it was only known through an intermediary. We cannot, however, go back 
beyond the ninth century, because of the evidence that the Trilogy postdated the 
Chronicle 0/819. It seems very likely that the Trilogy influenced the composition of the 
Legend 0/ Aaron ofSerugh, which can be dated to the late ten th century. Perhaps we can 
do no better than to place its definitive composition between 8rq and c.969. 60 

At the end of the third part of the Trilogy, which survives only in the later hand, we 
can detect an interpolation which had been unknown to another monk of Qartmin, who 
summarized the Life of Gabriel for liturgical purposes some time in the thirteenth 
century (see p. 160). 

The contents of the Trilogy are the Lives of Samuel and Simeon, the founders of 
Qartmin Abbey (the latter died in 433), and the Life of Gabriel (d. 648), who was abbot 
of Qartmin and bishop of Tur Wbdin at the momentous time of the Arab Conquest. The 
interval is bridged by a narrative containing an account of a battle between the monks 
and the nearby village of Qartmin over the relics of Simeon, a record of the building of a 
conventual church in the abbey under Anastasius (d. 518) and a quantity of extraneous 

It is instructive to contrast the Qartmin Trilogy with two related hagiographical 
compositions, the Life ofMalke and the above-mentioned Life of Aaron; whereas these 
arc smooth, fictional narratives, woven, as it were, of a single piece, the Trilogy is a 
patchwork of old and new, tradition and fantasy, historical records and blatant 
plagiarisms. The fascinating process by which these disparate materials may be unsewn 
and sorted for use by the historian will occupy several scattered pages in the body of my 
book; the early history of Qartmin is little more than an extended commentary on this 
text and on the Chronicle of 819, so it seems natural to treat textual problems at the 
point where they have most revelance to the narrative. 

Instead of a detailed analysis, therefore, I give here an analysis in tabular form. The 
Index locorum will enable the reader to find where each section is evaluated. By the use 
of italics for secondary, extraneous or imaginative material the skeleton of historically 
useful texts is visually exposed. Where they are known, the sources are briefly noted 
here for ease of reference. {Chr. JE= Chr. John Eph. 385; Chr. 810= Chr, Qartmin 819; 
Chr. E= Chr, Edessa 540; Chr, Z= Chr. Zuqnin 775; LL. E. Sts. = LL. Eastern Saints; 
Q- unknown source containing a number of building records; > = deriving from- 
*Cal. TA =an ancestor of Cat. TA.) 

*• The latter being Ihc earliest dale for Leg. Aaron, as I argue in OC 70 (1986). pp. 61-3. 

Analysis of the Qartmin Trilogy (by section) 












Persian sack of Qartmin 
Birth of Samuel 
Early ascesis 
Sojourn at Mor Abay 

Martyrdom of Karpos 
Arrival at Qartmin 

Encounter with the boy Simeon 
Simeons dream 
The boy becomes a disciple 
Girls trouble him at the spring 

The monks find a remote place 
An angel shows Simeon a better place 
The founders build an oratory 

Date of the foundation 
Catalogue of holy Qartminites 
Improving discourse 
The monks build their monastery 
Benefaction of Arcadius and Honorius 
Exorcism of Arcadius' daughter 
Plague in Hah 

Benefaction of Theodosius II 
Death of Samuel 

(in the style of John of Ephesus) 
> Chr. JE, vi.5-9 + tradition 

>CaI. TA, 3 Dec.; Chr. JE, vi.6 
cf. Leg. Malke 

> local liturgical panegyric 


cf. Leg. Malke 

>*Cal. TA, 15 May 


I — 5 Hagiographica 

6 Three miracles 

7 Plague in Tur 'Abdin 

8 Simeon visited by his Angel 

9 His effect on the Persians 

10 Visit ofRabbula 

1 1 Simeon's solitary walks 

Destruction of a heretic 

12 Simeons virtues 

13 Death of Simeon 

14 Battle with Qartmin village 

Presence of Dioscorus 

1 5 Clearing-out of the sepulchres 

>Chr. 8 1 9 = Chr. E, AG 723 


TA, 19 Jan.; Chr. E, kg 744 

> *Cal. TA, 6 Oct. 

> Chr. 819, AG 756 
*Cal. TA,60ct. (legejOcu); Chr.8/9, AG 756 


1 6 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 















Panegyric of monks 

Benefaction of Anastasius 

Change of emperors 

Descent of Ephrem on the East 

Persian sack ofQartmin 


Youth of Gabriel 

Early ascesis 

Arrival at Qartmin 

John the Arab 

Gabriel made bishop 

His treaty with the Arabs 

His strict rule . . . 

... in the refectory 

The poor at the gate 

the dead at . . . 

. . . the Monastery of the Cross 

... the village of Sighun 

. . . the village of Olin 

Quarrying the great slab 

A monk under interdiction 

Gabriel's virtues 

Death of Gabriel 

His funeral and the date of his death 

The course of his life, in summary 

Crushed boy revived f „ _, , „ „. 

1 *Cal. TA, 3 Jun.; Chr. 819, ag 101 i, Chr 


> LL. E. Sts., Ch. 35 

> LL. E. Sts., Ch. 35 
>Chr. 8 to, ag 891 

> LL. E. Sts., Ch. 36 

>Chr. Z, pp. 160-3 

>LL. E. Sts., Ch. 35 

> Gabriel's disciple, Theodore 

>INSCR, A.6. 
>LL. E. Sts., Ch. 18 

Simeon of the Olives 
Author's note 
Exhumation of Gabriel 
Detaching of his right hand 

ag 1018; *L. Simeon of the Olives'! 

It seems that the Life of Samuel was originally a mere foundation legend, in which 
tradition had preserved a few personalia about the founders. The legend focussed on 
the angel who led Simeon to the site of the abbey and helped him to measure it out; and 
that is how it was summarized in the Chronicle of 8 19 (ag 708). This seems to be a kind of 
memory of the fact that the original settlement was on another site not far away (see 
Chapter 2, admit.); the process by which the community moved over to the present site 
has been telescoped into a single night. This legend took shape in the second half of the 
fifth century and was written down at that time (see p. 39). 

The building records, including section 2 of the Life of Gabriel and, perhaps, section 
17 of the Life of Samuel, led a separate existence (=Q) until the compilation of the 
Trilogy; they may have been written in the original Book of Life. Whoever wrote the 
Chronicle of 819 failed to consult this book; his silence is outweighed by the evidence. 



The Life of Simeon was a separate composition. It should be compared with the 
(much longer) Life of Barsawmo, which is little more than a list of his miracles and his 
virtues, although it preserves elements of authentic tradition recognizable on internal 
criteria. Such elements are to be found in sections 6 to 9 and, perhaps, in section 1 1 of the 
Life of Simeon. Section 13 owes something to the Chronicle ofEdessa, which was not 
apparently used elsewhere by the compiler of the Trilogy. Probably, the Life of Simeon 
was composed in the same period as the Life of Barsawmo, thai is, 550-650, 61 in a 
different and very terse style. All the later compiler did was to expand and embroider it. 

The Life of Gabriel had no previous existence as a full hagiography; the reliable part 
can be isolated with virtual certainty at the very end: a record of his funeral and a 
summary of his life. Something about the way section 1 2 is phrased suggests that it is a 
corrupt version of a genuine tradition, but so corrupt that it can tell us nothing new. 
Sections 13, I4and I7surely belonged to the oral tradition, asdid sections 24, 27 and 28. 
These last two seem so fresh that they might have been written down within the lifetime 
of some who had seen Gabriel's exhumation in the early 770s. The Chronicle of 819 says 
that Gabriel raised a person from the dead, whereas the Life of Gabriel speaks of three 
resurrections. This shows that it did not reach its definitive form until after 819. 

We can now reconstruct the state of the sources at the moment when the compiler of 
the Trilogy (the author of sections 1 and 13 of the Life of Samuel and section 26 of the 
Life of Gabriel) set himself the task of making something like a continuous and 
satisfactory narrative out of them. 

He followed a convention known to us also from the Life ofAho, by which an extract 
from the history of the wars between Rome and Persia (no matter whether it is accurate 
or suitable to the context) is used and adapted to introduce the hagiographical subject. 
He had at his elbow the Church History and the Lives of the Eastern Saints by John of 
Ephesus, the Chronicle of 8/9 and the Calendar ofTur Abdin; he also used the Chronicle 
ofZuqnin on one occasion and made one of the eighth-century inscriptions at Qartmin 
the basis of another flight of fancy. He was ingenious enough to invent a connection 
between Samuel and the martyr-bishop Karpos of Sawro, whose commemoration he 
found in the Calendar, and to bring both of them to the region of Nisibis in order to 
work in an 'historical context' for the martyrdom (see p. 22). 

The compiler of the Qartmin Trilogy shows considerable narrative skills, particu- 
larly in sections 6, 7, 9 and i6ofthe£</eo/"Sa/m«?/andinsections5, 1 1 and 14 of the Life 
of Simeon, skills which appear to derive from the same milieu as the Life ofMalke. The 
Life ofMalke was written in Tur Abdin, probably in the ninth or tenth century, to judge 
by the history of the Awgin Cycle and Malke's high rank in that tradition. It shows 
unusual interest in human emotions and senses, particularly the sense of smell, which it 
exploits with pathos. Something of these qualities can be found in the passages cited 
from our text. 

Is it perhaps significant that they are absent from the Life ofGabriell Perhaps we 
should postulate two processes of compilation, the first integrating the Lives of Samuel 
and Simeon, the second combining these with that of Gabriel. What seems beyond 
doubt, however, is that the text we have before us is the product of several reworkings, 
during each of which interpolations were made. 

•' Honigmann. Barfauma, p, 16. 

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Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

century {when A bay, alias Mihrshabuhr, was put to death by his Persian father 
Adurabrozgird) and the late seventh century, when Theodotos of Amida dwelt there » 
t may be the 'monastery of Mor Abay' persecuted by the Chalcedonians in 521 
according to the Chronicle of Michael.' If the tradition associated Samuel with a 
monastery of Mor Abay \ it is preferable to take this to mean the one near Qeleth, since 
otherwise we should have to postulate an unknown monastery. 7 Besides, Qeleth is in 
the region of Sawro, where Samuel was born. 

The connection between Karpos of Sawro and Samuel is suspect. There must have 
been a church dedicated to Karpos at Qartmin village, since our author was surely 
obliged in such matters to work within a local tradition.* But if nothing was known of 

L7bUhnn°^ ,S T T d * d [n thC IUurgiCaI Calendar ofTur * bdin ' name 'y *at he 
was b. hop of Sawro and was martyred on 3 December, the tradition that he was 

eXl T^* ***" inVCmed ° n the ** of thcircommon origin and the 
existence of a church dedicated to Karpos at Qartmin 

Honigmann thinks it improbable that a bishop of Sawro can have been put to death 
^ e / CrS !l nJ ' **"* Sawro was demonstrably within the Roman empire.' The 
Calendar of fur Abdm does not actually say he was killed by the Persians and the 

^h?, I C °h u P T ded '? thC Ufe iS aduUer **d- Karpos may have met his death at 
other hands. But the implication of Constants' fortification of Tur Abdm is that 
Persian forays agamst Amida could be expected not only from the south, by way of the 
plain which Telia commandedand the pass between the limestone massif and the basalt 
J3T f Tu' bUt a,S ° fr ° m the eaSt ' II is not improbable that a raiding party 
t~l f £ v T r ^ "f ° Ver Which lhe bish °P of $ awro P"*** indeed, Sawro 

2!lr!W I" A" 6 ° US Stfategic a PP roachcs <° Amida. This is the 'route 

described by Assurnasirpal II, in the passage quoted at the beginning of this book 
where $awro appears with its ancient name, Sura (Shura) 

In the sixth century of the Christian Era, as in the ninth century bc. $awro was an 

^"ZllT ^S^ F Proc °P iusas " e <>^veralcastles between Daraand 
Amida. Another of these castles was Banasymeon, a name which seems very likely to 
represent the original reading of the Notitia Amiochena, where it gives the third of the 

*Z^C*Z^?*Vl ' Mnasoubion ' <* ^ BanasynJon'." The first two 
bishoprics have been identified as Rish'ayno and Tur Abdin. They account for the 
areas t0 the south-west and north-east of Dara; the south-east was Persian territory, 
whir! p™ nS C n ° rth - w " t ' the re 8ion between Dara and Amida, and that is indeed 
of Z Z 7™ Se£mS l ° tf? Banas y me °n- P^bably this name was attached to one 
ot the late Roman sues which dominates the valley of Sawro. 12 

Mairem is called after Mor Abhav nSE aiLv 1 "2^ *" Ramcd after him ^ monastery at Beth, p. 14,. • rf W5CJ? C n * u * ° W * F*™' Kuttbau " n * »• PP 3^0: cf. L. Simon of 
10 t>™™«.. o ,1 3 " Honigmann. Barsawna. p. tot. ' 

Procopius. * u ^«^ „. 4 . I4; cf. Geo of c 4 ^79i9- Sot, Dign 7< 

E. Homgmann. Byzanmische Zeitschrif, 25 (,««) p gV "' "*"" P " 75 

P ™ b *H«arkaya(KaleBozresha),onwhichseeW^ 


Samuel of Eshlin 23 

In 570, therefore, there was a Chatcedonian bishopric not far from Sawro. Now, ever 
since the wrongful deposition of anti-Chalcedonian bishops at the start of the sixth- 
century persecutions, successors-in-exile had been appointed to their sees whenever 
possible, by way of disputing the legitimacy of bishops resident. This policy developed 
under Jacob Baradaeus into an effort to construct a complete shadow hierarchy. 13 If 
the Syrian Orthodox rival of the bishop of Banasymeon resided near $awro he may well 
have been called bishop of the latter. The creation of this bishopric probably followed 
the elevation of Dara to metropolitan status. It did not last long. The Chalcedonian 
bishop disappeared either in 573, with the fall of Dara to the Persians, or, more likely, in 
613, at the Persian conquest of Mesopotamia (cf. pp. 149-50). The Syrian Orthodox 
bishop disappeared before 698, when Theodotos died at Qeleth, for he is not listed 
among the prelates 'in whose country he died and who honoured his commemora- 
tion'. 14 Jacob of Sawro, the only other bishop attested for this see, was alive in 648 
(Lxxxvn.18; cf. pp. 156-57). Probably the eclipse of $awro was due both to the 
disappearance of the Chalcedonian rival and to the removal of the frontier, which 
robbed the fortress of its importance. 

The existence in Sawro of a mosque called after 'the martyr Karpos' {Qrafus al- 
shahid) 1 s seems to imply a pre- Islamic date for the bishop; the dedication of the former 
church would hardly have been adopted by the Muslims otherwise. 

These arguments give a terminus ante quern in the early seventh century. As for the 
terminus post quern, it can be fixed with considerable confidence at the death of 
Anastasius in 5 1 8. Before that date not only had Dara hardly become a metropolis, but 
also, the outstanding saints of Mesopotamia would have been included in the liturgical 
calendar of the Universal Church. The martyrology of 41 1 , written in Edessa, contains 
no commemoration of Karpos among the confessor bishops, which certainly detaches 
him from Samuel. ' 6 Once loosed from these fourth-century moorings there is no reason 
why he should not drift into the most probable context, namely the sixth century. 

Syrian Orthodox bishops in that time frequently lived in monasteries and it may well 
be that the bishop of $awro dwelt in the monastery of Mor Abay above Qeleth. 17 
According to the Life ofTheodotos, this monastery was deserted in the Persian Wars. ' 8 
That event provides a plausible occasion for the martyrdom of Karpos; when did it 
occur? In the course of the Twenty Years' War the Persians entered the vicinity of 
Sawro. At some date before 587, they captured Beioudaes (Fafi), to the west of Tur 
Abdin. This, or else the years 604-6, when the Persians captured the castle of Tur 
Abdin and other targets on the Tigris frontier, is the best context that can be found in 
the surviving sources. 19 

the most likely position, both because it was thickly populated (being fertile) and because of the place of 
Banasymeon in Procopius' list: it is relatively far down. i.e. near Amida. yet as a bishopric it came under Dara. 

Xi See the list in LL. Eastern Saints, p. (502-4!; Honigmann, Eveques, pp. 142-206. 231-45. 

l * L. Theodotos, fol. 68b.2. " I. Armalet, at-Mashriq 16 (1913), p. 572. 

14 Cat. Edessa ^ 1!, pp. 1 [-13: Karposisnolamong the bishop-martyrsofthcOrient either,^'*/., p.24. nor 
in Cat. Syr. 

17 John bar Shayallah, bishop of Amida and Sawro late in the fifteenth century, seems to have taken the 
latter part of his title from the fact of his residence at Mor Abay, which he restored thoroughly: L. John bar 
Shayallah, foil. 830-843; see also Ch. 2. n. 11. '• L. Theodotos. fol. 66b.3. 

l * Theophylact, 11.18.7f; Whitby. •Theophylact". p. 207 n. 2; Chr. 'GuiaT 7thcenL, p. 22; Chr. Qartmin 819. 
AC 916; Chr. Michael 1195, X.25&, pp. 390-t (on the latter occasion, according to Michael, the Persians 
'harmed none but the Romans' in the vicinity of Hesno d-Kifo and Tur Abdin). 

24 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Honigmann went too far in dismissing all evidence of an episcopal title at Sawro 
before the late fifteenth century. 20 Both the Calendar of Tur "Abdin, a trustworthy 
witness, and the Life of Gabriel ware written down in their definitive form before that 
date. Why should they have invented these bishops, Karpos and Jacob, out of thin air? 
The name of the mosque at $awro also points to an ancient tradition. I would suggest 
that the title was introduced after 566, when John of Ephesus listed the bishops created 
by Jacob Baradaeus, 21 as a counterpart to the Chalcedonian title of Banasymcon. 
Karpos in all probability met his death at the hands of the Persians when they destroyed 
the monastery of MorAbay, presumably in the 580s. The existence of a tradition to this 
general effect would make the legendary development of the Life of Samuel tven more 

There is some evidence that §awro, which was, as we have seen, a very ancient 
settlement, had considerable standing in the lifetime of Samuel. The Life of Daniel of 
Aghlosh (d. 439) reports that the aristocratic family of his bride came from the 'village of 
Sawr/Sor* in the territory of Amida. 22 This goes some way towards substantiating the 
picture of Sawro as an important centre in the fourth century. The Syriac word for 
village can apply to any town. Not every 'village' would have contained aristocratic 
families which formed alliances with other such families in Amida. An early monk of 
Qartmin was called Abraham bar Sawroye, which means he sprang from an aristocratic 
family of Sawro (xxi.18-19). 23 

The parents of Samuel and of his disciple Simeon are described as wealthy and well- 
known men (vi.9-10; x.1-2), but we should understand this in relative terms. Com- 
pared to the other inhabitants of Eshtin and of Qartmin they were rich, but they are 
unlikely to have been known, say, to the parents of Daniel of Aghlosh, or even to his in- 
laws. Indeed, the very idea that they were rich may be a hagiographical convention, 
which, though it has a firm enough basis in the actual lives of many saints, was assumed 
without knowledge to apply also to Samuel and Simeon. In the same way Aaron of 
Serugh, whose Life is almost entirely fictional, was supposed to have been the son of 
rich parents in Kafro Rabo, near Serugh. They could not bear to think of him getting 
tanned by keeping company with shepherds! 3 * 

The historical basis of this convention can be illustrated from the best-known and 
authenticated Syriac saints* Lives of the fifth-sixth centuries. The parents of Daniel of 
Aghlosh had enough influence with the military authorities at Amida to have a posse of 
four mounted soldiers despatched after their son, when he absconded with Mor Mari 
towards Edessa with the intention of becoming a monk." The father of John of Telia 
(4 8 3-538) died when he was an infant, leaving enough money for a good Hellenic 
education and enough influence to get him a position in the praetorium of the duke at 
Rish'ayno. His mother tried to persuade him that it was possible to lead a life pleasing to 
God as a man of means. 26 In Edessa about the same time, Aphtonia, the widow of a 
rhetor, gave most of her sons the required education in rhetoric and law and found them 

" Honigmann. Barsauma. p. 101. il cf. n. 13. " L. Daniel, fol. 98a.2; summary, p. 60. 
cf. Athanasius bar Gumoye, Chr. Michael tt 9S , xi.r6b. p. 447, and (ibid.. xti. 4 b. p. 485) Denis* 
exposition or the relationship between hisown family (Beth Tell-Mabroyc) and two great families of Edessa. 
Beth Rusaphoye and Beth Gumoye. " Leg. Aaron, pp. [295-6). 

:> L. Daniel, fol. 98b. 3; summary, pp. 60-t. " L. John of Telia, pp. 39, 42. 

Samuel of Eshtin 25 

positions in the imperial service; but her youngest, another John, she placed in a 
monastery near Seleucia on the Orontes before his beard was grown. 2 ' Later in the sixth 
century, at Samosata, another widow distributed her husband's wealth among the 
poor, keeping enough to educate her two lame sons, Athanasius and Severus, until they 
were old enough to enter the monastery at Qenneshre, which was founded by the above- 
mentioned John, son of Aphtonia. Athanasius ended his life as patriarch of the Syrian 
Orthodox; Severus as bishop of Samosata. 23 

The biographer of John bar Aphtonia makes explicit his literary purpose in begin- 
ning with John's illustrious origins: just as the book of Job speaks first of his noble birth 
and of his wealth, 'in order to show the greatness of his ordeal and to add lustre to his 
victory', so the mention of John's rich background will make his voluntary abdication 
sound more admirable. 19 This might well be taken as a programme for beginning a 
saint's Life, whether or not he was in fact well-born like John. 

On the other hand, Christ and the Apostles, and, for instance, Simeon the Stylite 
offered a different model; their parents were not rich and whatever education they had 
had was, with few exceptions, very limited. Jesus was a carpenter, the Apostles 
tentmakers, cobblers and fishermen, Simeon a shepherd. This model finds an echo in 
the Life of Barsawmo. 30 But it is significantly less easy to add to this list than to the 

One of the few Syriac Lives which deals with the family background of the saint in no 
more than two or three lines is that of Theodotos of Amida, who died in 698. He was 
born in an obscure village of Ingilene called 'Noth into a family called Beth Qeryono, 
'the house of reading'. 3 ' In the context of village life this would seem to designate a 
family which was known for the readers it had supplied to the village church. This 
implies a modicum of leisure, as does the fact that Theodotos, already as a boy, went 
visiting the monasteries in the region of Amida. Theodotos* Greek name may well have 
been adopted at the hellenized abbey of Qenneshre, but there is little trace in his reliable 
biography of Hellenic ideals. When he died he possessed only five books, which 
contrasts starkly with the bibliophilia of his contemporary, Jacob of Edessa, also a 
monk of Qenneshre. 32 

While the bias of early accredited hagiography towards genuinely aristocratic urban 
families is clearly to be connected with the relative inarticulateness of those who lived 
outside this circle, the exception provided by the Life of Theodotos may nevertheless 
justify the generalization that most distinguished holy men came from families distin- 
guished in the world. For it draws our attention to the one essential distinction between 
the peasant and his economic superiors, however parochial the fame of the latter may 
have been: the possession of leisure. Most villagers in Tur c Abdin today can ill-afford to 
send their children to monasteries, because they need their help on the farm. 

John of Ephesus tells us how his contemporary Simeon 'the Mountaineer' found a 
highland region around Abdher on the Euphrates where people lived in widely 

" L. John bar Aphtonia, sections 2-4. " Chr. Michael itaj, X.24C. pp. 388-9. 

19 L. John bar Aphtonia, section 2. 30 L. Barsawmo, fol. 72a. I. il L. Theodotos, fol. 58a.!. 

11 L. Theodotos. fol. 67b. l; Chr. Michael 119$. xi.t6c, pp. 448-9: when the monks of Tell Eda saw that 
Jacob was dying and would not embark on his intended journey to Edessa. they sent after his books, which 
had been dispatched in advance, and retrieved them for their library before they crossed the Euphrates. 

26 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

scattered farmsteads of substantial dimensions up to ten miles from the village and 
pastured cattle and sheep on the mountainside." (The sharp contrast with most other 
regions of Mesopotamia at that time, which we can infer from Simeon's astonishment, 
must mean that the region was so rugged and impassable that the highlanders had no 
problems of security; in Tur Abdin villages are tightly clustered on defensible hills and 
the only outlying buildings arc empty bothies for travellers and merchants.) At last 
Simeon found a church in 'a kind of village' called M'arbono, but was bitterly 
disappointed to find it full of wood and stones and dust. Many of the inhabitants of this 
region, he learned, only went to church to baptize their children and had little 
knowledge of the Christian faith. He resolved to reform them and, having cleaned out 
the church, he summoned them all to it on a Sunday and said, 'Why have your sons not 
been made Sons of the Covenant and been instructed and placed in this church to 
make you hear God's Word?' They replied, 'Sir, they have not time to leave the goats 
and learn anything*. When the holy man resolved nonetheless to tonsure thirty of the 
ninety children and teach them, boys and girls together, in a school, he found that he 
had to overcome much opposition. This was surely because the parents begrudged their 
loss of shepherds and helpers. Yet he succeeded in establishing a first generation of 
Readers and Daughters of the Covenant, who in turn were teaching others at the time of 
his death. 3 * 

Simeon the Stylite had developed a kind of natural religion while he kept the sheep 
and there will always have been those like him who came to monastic life from a 
working background. But the children whose parents could afford to let them sample 
that life at leisure gained thereby a natural advantage. In some ways, perhaps, the 
monastic elite, perversely enough, perpetuated the social status quo. Christ's Gospel of 
poverty had not succeeded in making the rich less respectable, but the taint of wealth 
was offset by a close association with monasteries and the residual guilt expiated 
through the 'sacrifice' of a child. 

To return to our text: the mention of Samuel's younger brother, Shomir (vii.tcj), 
recommends itself both by the rarity of the name 35 and by the fact that this brother 
plays no further part in the story. A 'novelist* would hardly introduce a character only 
to let him disappear again. Even the Syriac Life of Simeon the Stylite, which is no work 
of fiction, pursues Simeon's brother Shemshay a little further. 3 * As for the romantic 
Legend of Malke, it treats the saint's sister, Shufnay, with an emotional sympathy 
surprising in a monastic author, devoting many lines to her birth, to her friendship with 
Malke and to her sorrow at his departure. 17 Since the occasion of Shomir's appearance 
in the narrative is the building of a monastery near Eshtin, we may accept this, also, 
together with the modest and unsuspect number of the brethren who gathered there. By 
contrast, the 'three years' and the 'seven years* at 'Amrin and the 'thirty brethren* 
should be treated with reserve (vm.4, 1 1). 

" LL. Eastern Saints, pp. [229-47). 

>* LL. Eastern Saints, p. [247]; on the Sons and Daughters of the Covenant, see the literature cited in Ch. 3. 
n. :oi. and. specifically. G. Nedungatt. 'The Covenanters of the Early Syriac-Spcaking Church'. Orientalia 
Christiana Periodica 39 (1973). pp. 191-215; 419-44. 

" Only otherwise found in L. Jacob, fol. 178a.* (summary, p. 9). as the name of a Persian general. 

" L. Simeon Slytiles, pp. 508. 316-19, 543. 

" Leg. Malke, pp. 422. 4*4- 427-8. 430-1. 434~5. 438, 440, 442. 


Samuel of Eshtin 27 

I have already suggested tentatively that Samuel's second monastery may have been 
placed by the authentic tradition on the site of the monastery of Mor Abay near Qeleth 
and subsequently 're-sited' by our hagiographer to allow his interpolated Persian 
raiders to visit it from Nisi bis. The statement that he afterwards went eastwards into the 
mountain for one day, leaving the Persian borders (ix.9-10), should accordingly be 
attributed to the same interpolator, who need not have had any special knowledge of 
the Roman-Persian frontier, beyond the tradition that Qartmin was in Roman terri- 
tory, as testified by the successive imperial benefactions to the abbey during the fifth 
and early sixth centuries. It is the records of these, not this statement concerning 
Samuel's migration, which should be cited as evidence that the frontier lay to the east of 
Qartmin. 18 

(t is by a reference to the danger of Persian raids across the border that our writer 
seeks to explain the tradition that Samuel settled within a bow-shot of the village of 
Qartmin (rx. 14-18; xv. 18-19), a tradition which is today associated with a small ruin to 
the west of the spring, near the road which leads up to the abbey. This needs an 
explanation because Samuel's motivation throughout has been portrayed as a flight 
from society, even the society of like-minded men. If his main purpose in leaving the 
monastery of Mor Abay had been 'to get away from the Persian border' (ix.10), he 
might have found somewhere further from it than Qartmin. He left his first monastery 
by stealth and managed to be alone for three years, but 'God did not allow him to 
remain concealed* (vin. 1 , 4); when he left his second monastery he had to employ a ruse 
to prevent anyone from following him. 

This portrait of a wily hermit in perpetual flight from humanity has the hallmark of 
the Syrian ascetical tradition. Compare the Addai, whom John of Ephesus, ever eager 
for the sight of a holy man, set out with a friend to trap in the mountains. 39 At the first 
attempt they failed because the holy man seemed to catch their scent and bolted like a 
wild animal. The second time they had more luck: 

At noontide in the middle of the day we saw the old man passing over a certain clear space some 
distance off and coming down from one mountain towards another, there being a cleft in 
between; and we kept ourselves close lest he should see us and run away . . . But we, when we saw 
that he had sat down to rest, came down by a deep gully and went on until we arrived opposite the 
blessed man; and thus we suddenly came up and caught him. At the sight of us he was 
thunderstruck, as a man is frightened by the sudden sight of a lion. His eyes darted hither and 
thither, but when he saw there was no escape, he stood his ground and welcomed us. After 
praying, he arose and asked us, 'Whence have you come hither, blessed men, on this mountain?' 
We entreated him to sit down for a little, but he would not consent to sit down, in order that he 
might not be involved in a long conversation with human beings. Instead he told us, 'Go to the 
monastery and rest there and I will come at once.' We tried to say many things, but he opposed us 
with this proposition, that we should go to the monastery, for our comfort as he maintained, 
though in fact it was only so that he might escape from us. 

Whether the crafty wildness of an Addai was attributed to Samuel by the authentic 
tradition or by a later hagiographer, his original settlement near the spring after which 

" Ditlcmann. Mesopoiamie, p. 229; Bell/Mango, TA. pp. iti-iv. 
" LL. Eastern Saints, pp. [132-33I. 

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30 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Christian buildings." Between the abbey of Qartmin and Kivakh is a ruin which may 
be the largest pagan complex in Jur Abdin. It will be described at the beginning of 
Chapter 2. 

Tree- worship, attested by the Life of Aho for neighbouring Armenia in the sixth 
century, seems certain to have influenced the design of the bronze trees erected at 
Qartmin in 512 (LX.15-LXI.2; cf. p. 127). There were still pagans in the region of 
Samosata in the twelfth century, who sought, as converts to Christianity, to continue 
their veneration of trees under the name of the Cross. "These appear to have belonged 
to a group called 'the sons of the Sun'. The so-called Shemsiye, a sect of Armenian sun- 
or fire- worshippers, were numerous in the upper Tigris region as late as the nineteenth 
century.* 7 The Yezidis of Tur Abdin with their holy groves may perhaps also be seen as 
the heirs of local paganism.' 8 

The very scarcity of this evidence is eloquent testimony to the thoroughness of the 
Christian missionaries." Barsawm is right to say that there are no reliable witnesses to 
the conversion of Tur Abdin before the fourth century.* But the Awgin Cycle of 
hagiographical legends and the Life of Jacob ofNisibis, which Barsawm cites, are also 
late inventions. 01 They nonetheless contain a grain of truth. 02 Comparison with better- 
documented areas and inference from its known history authorize us to believe that Tur 
Abdin was purged of paganism in the fourth century by Christian monks." 

The value of the Life of Samuel is that, unlike many local accounts concerning fourth- 
century monasticism in this area, we can distinguish in it elements of a genuine 
tradition. Samuel of Eshtin did not belong to the first phalanx of missionary monks. 
Paganism was evidently dead before his arrival at Qartmin. Like Daniel of Aghlosh, his 
contemporary, he found in his ruin only the demons who had once been accustomed to 

" Illustrated in Bell/Mango, TA, p|. 141; Wiessner, Kultbauten. r, fig. 18. According to L. Jacob, fol 
1783.2, summary, p. 9. it was a temple of the Persian god Herakles'. On Nimrud Dagh. Antiochus 1 of 
Commagcne had identified Herakles with Vcrethraghna (Wahram); such syncretism was common currency 
in Mesopotamia. Salah had belonged in the third century to Persia. Pognon records a fourteenth-century 
building inscription on this side of the church, but he is not sufficiently explicit about its location for us to 
determine whether it included the arches (Inscriptions, pp. 70-t); certainly the arches themselves are very 
ancient, since no such massive stonework is found in Tur Abdin in the Middle Ages, (f they had belonged to a 
church, they would have been incorporated in a restoration. The same applies to the unpublished arch near 
the church of Mor Dime! in Zaz. 

54 D. Chwolson. Die Ssabier und der Ssahismus, 1 (1856). p. 293. 

' T Chwolson. op. cit., pp. 292-5; Southgate. Narrative of a Tour through Armenia etc., a ( 1 840). pp. 284-5; 
Goyunc/, X VI. Yuzyttda Mardin Sancagi ( 1 969). pp. 77-9: as late as c. 16 1 the Shemsiye had a temple outside 
the Mardin gate of Diyarbekir. 

'* From the abbey of Qartmin can be seen to the north Khan B&bi. the hostelry of Job", a holy grove and 

bunal place of the Yezidis. on whom see now J.S. Guest, The Yezidis: A Study in Survival ( London, 1987) 

cf. G. Fowdcn. in JTS ns 29 (1 978). pp. 53-78 (at p. 68): a similar observation concerning the limestone 

plateau east of Antioch. On the epigraphic evidence for the Christianization of Syria, see W. Liebcschutz in 

Limes 2„ ed. J. Ftiz (Budapest. 1977), pp. 485-507. 

40 Barsawm, TA, pp. 16-18 (The Arrival of Christianity in Tur Abdin*), especially p. 17 

• On the legend of Awgin and the Awgin Cycle, see J. Labourt. Le Christianisme dans fempire perse sous la 
dynasty sassanide (1904). pp. 302ft Baumstark. Geschichte, pp. 235-7. with the qualifications of J.-M. Fiey, 
Anal. £0//. So (1962). pp. 52-81; id.. Jatons pour une histoire de I'egtise en Iraq (Louvain, 1970). pp. 100-10- the 
evidence is too fragmentary 10 allow us 10 say to what extent the legend corresponds to the truth. On the 
Legend of Jacob, sec P. Peeters. Anal. Boll. 38 (1920), pp. 285-373. 

« Fiey (Jatons, p. 1 1 1) comes to the conclusion that monasticism spread from Nisibis and Amida in two 
"tribal movements' during the fourth century. 

*" For the role of the monks throughout the Eastern Empire in enforcing the anti-pagan legislation of 
Thcodosius, sec G. Fowden, JTS ns 19 (1978). pp. 53-78. 

Samuel of Eshtin 3 1 

the smoke of sacrifice. 6 * The conversion of Tur 'Abdin had been completed by an earlier 
generation. The first monks of Qartmin were free to direct their efforts further afield, to 
Armenia and Persia, where three of them died as martyrs.* 5 

It was, in all likelihood, the Tigris crossing at Celik which, by allowing trans- 
Tigritane traffic to enter Tur Abdin from the north-east, made Khabkhi of the Assy rian 
records a prosperous land.* 6 If it is right to equate Khabkhi with Hah, we have here a 
ready explanation for the early prominence of this town. Ammi, a native of Hah, who 
was bishop of Tur Abdin in the fifth century, died as a martyr in Tanezin, not far from 
Celik on the Persian side of the Tigris. 07 No doubt he went there to preach the Gospel. 

The church of the Mother of God in Hah has a unique form among the churches of 
Tur c Abdin and a unique feature in its sanctuary: a semi-circle of arched niches around 
the altar, resembling an episcopal synthronos. 6 * This, together with the size of the 
original settlement, which once had at least eight churches, strongly suggests that it was 
the first bishopric of Tur Abdin. From 614 to 1088 the bishop of fur Abdin resided at 
Qartmin Abbey. Briefly in the mid-eighth century, and for a long period after 1088/9, a 
separate bishop of Tur Abdin was consecrated; he seems to have resided in or near 
Hah.* 9 This is best explained as a reversion to ancient precedent. 

The largest church in Hah, which may date originally from the fifth century, though 
it shows signs of a later rebuilding, is that of the martyr Sovo. 70 Now, we read in the Life 
of Samuel that he visited Nyohto, a village identified by a marginal note as Hah, 71 and 
erected there an oratory on the north side of the 'great church*, near which the 
inhabitants built a monastery in his name (xxxi.1-12). On the north side of the church 
of Mor Sovo at Hah there is a small chapel dedicated to 'Mor Samuel' at a depth 
suggestive of great antiquity. 72 It may be that this is a reliable record of the existence of 
buildings on these sites in the early fifth century. 

This dedication to Sovo in the Christian capital of Tur Abdin is of great significance. 
Sovo (alias Pirgushnasp) was a Persian prince of the mid-fourth century, who was put 
to death for his Christian faith in the very part of Persian territory that most closely 
bordered on Tur Abdin. 73 The title of the great church at Hah may be seen as a gesture 
of defiance directed against the neighbouring Zoroastrian state. 

Another Persian martyr, Dodho, is commemorated in the names of churches at Beth 

** xxvui.6; L. Daniel, fol. 980.2. tooa.i; summary, p. 61. 

*' xxm.6-7, 15; two more martyrs at xxii.18-19. " Kessler. Untersuchungen, p. 54. 

* T See p. 78; Tanezin is Tami on the Turkish map, 5 km from the confluence of the Bokhtan Cay and the 
Tigris and about 10 km from Celik; cf. Barsawm, TA, p. 14. 

•• Mundell Mango, in eds. Garsolan et al.. East of Byzantium (1982), pi. 26. 

** Pognon, Inscriptions, p. 48 n. 4; for the residence of Bishop Cyriac of Tur Abdin, see Chr. Zuonin 775, 
pp. 285-9, where the narrative seems to imply that he lived near rjajp, though not in it (p. 289, lines 5-0). The 
Monastery of the Cross, visible, but at least two and a half hours' walk away from Hab. was the residence of 
the bishop in the fourteenth century: Barsawm, TA, p. 145; cf. BO a, p. 460; J.M. Fiey, Parole de {'Orient 10 
(1981-2), pp. 14-16. 

'* Bell/Mango, TA, fig. to.pp. 18-19, 112-13; S.Guya, Repertorium fur Kunstwissenschaft 38(1916). pp. 
209- 1 2; Mundell (in Bryer/Herrin. Iconoclasm (1977). p. 65 n. 74) argues for a date in the first half of the sixth 

" Nyohto (not 'Hahta\ pace Mango, in Belt/Mango. TA. p. 1 1 1) is a noun, meaning 'requiem (feast)*, 
'funeral banquet*. 

71 Bell/Mango. TA, p. 1 1 1 ; Wiessner, Kultbauten, 1, pp. t2o~3withfig. 11. There are five steps down to the 

71 See Leg. Sovo with Hoffmann's notes; Cat. TA. 23 Jan.; "Saint Sovo of the great church of Hah and his 
12.000 fellow-martyrs*. 

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36 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

bed-rock and containing a remarkable projection of the bed-rock in the shape of a solid 
lectern' (fig. 7), the other not far from the western angle of the main enclosure, walled in 
squarely and containing three upstanding, unshaped rocks in a row. 

Two features of the site make it certain that it was used as a quarry by the monks of 
Qartmin, One is the absence by the dismantled walls of any rubble or scattered blocks of 
stone. The other is the existence of a boulder-free clearway between the ruin and the 
monastery, banked with rocks and relatively smooth, which must have been the track 
used to transport materials between the two sites. Probably soil was compacted on it to 
make it really smooth; but this soil has since been washed away, leaving some awkward 
patches. Yet even so the contrast with the surrounding terrain is emphatic. 

The monks, then, used the ruin as a quarry. But what had the ruin been? It is far away 
from the nearest village; and even if isolated farmsteads were a feature of this region 
which they are not, it would be difficult to see it in this light. It might be a pagan cult- 
centre; or perhaps an ancient monastery. Against the latter might be set the absence of 
any outline on the ground which might have been the foundation for a block of cells or a 
refectory, although wooden structures may have disappeared without a trace. More- 
over, the only obvious edifice is unlike any church known in this area. To these 
arguments may be added the following doubts: would Christian monks have had a use 
for the 'special areas' to the south-west of the main enclosure with their significantly 
placed rocks? And would they have dismantled the enclosure if it had belonged to a 

The answer to the tatter question might be that the community decided to move to a 
more spacious site, taking its buildings with it. Yet one would expect them like the 
inhabitants of Torcello, to leaveat least theirchurch intact. What they do seem to have 
left intact were the arches themselves with their makeshift apses, though these have 
partly fallen down since then. This suggests that the apses did have religious significance 
for the monks. Probably it was they who had turned the arches into apses. The south- 
cast orientation was near enough to the right direction. 

I suggest that the original building and its enclosure with the adjoining complex 
formed a pagan cult-centre, which Christian solitaries, living perhaps in the extensive 
caves below the site to the east and north-east, transformed into an oratory by 
displacing a few blocks from the walls to construct apses of a kind behind the arches 
When the community grew, it shifted to the site of the abbey, using the ruin as a quarry 
but leaving the 'oratory* standing. 

The foundation legend of the abbey tells how the aged Samuel of Eshtin, fleeing 
Persian territory with a relic of his spiritual father, the martyred bishop Karpos of 
Sawro, came to Qartmin and settled near the spring about a bow-shot to the north of the 
village (ix.8-14; xv.18-19). The recovery of Simeon, the ailing son of one of the richer 
villagers, after Samuel had prayed over the martyr's relic on his behalf, led the boy's 
father, Slivo, to build a church in the name of Karpos in his village and to promise 
Samuel hts son for adisciple. He also promised the holy man money with which to build 
and sustain a monastery (x.7-8). 

Samuel and his disciple remained for a while near the village, but after a time decided 
it would be better to distance themselves from it. They set off from Qartmin 'towards 
the east and a little north' and walked until they came to a certain ruin, where they 

Marked out by an angel 37 

Fig. 7. Culik area at south end of Deralmin 

decided to make an oratory (xvn.5-12). The word is beth slutho, literally 'house of 
prayer'; but to judge by the application of the term in Tur Abdin, where it designates an 
apse at the east end of a courtyard consistently placed on the south side of a village 
church, it is not so much a house as a prayer-niche in an open area surrounded by a 
wall. 5 

However, that night, an angel showed Simeon another site in a vision and marked it 
out with three large stone blocks. One of these, 'shaped by a craftsman of ancient times', 
was left hanging a span or more above the ground (xvra. 1 5-17). In the morning Samuel 
learned of his disciple's vision and they both set off 'from the east towards the west' and 
found the three marker-stones, one of them suspended in mid-air (xx. 13-15). Around 
them they built their oratory, on a much larger scale than seemed necessary, because the 
angel had promised Simeon that their community would attain vast proportions 
(xix. 1-7). 

This legend can be interpreted with reference to the ruin under discussion. It 
certainly lies to the east, perhaps a little to the north, of Qartmin village. But it does not 
lie exactly to the east of the abbey. The direction is more like south-south-east. This 
mistake might be explained as follows: the writer was envisaging the departure of the 
founders from the ruin, so he momentarily left out of account such known constants as 
the orientation of the abbey and the place of the sunrise; instead he thought of the apses 
in the ruin as oratories and assumed that they indicated the east. Since the apses face the 
abbey it would follow that the abbey lay to the west of the ruin. 

The legend has certain features which suggest an early date. The most telling of these 

Pognon, Inscriptions, p. 93: Bell/Mango, TA, pp. x. 13-14; Appendix, section 1. 

38 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 


Marked out by an angel 


Fig. 8. Stone, possibly identical with the 'Hanging Stone*, identified in the Life of Samuel as the base for a 
pagan statue 

is the present tense used of the oratory marked out by Simeon and the angel (xvni.13, 
17-18; xxi.4,5). The writer speaks of this building as standing in his day; he even avers 
that the hanging stone is there 'still today, with nothing to support it' (xviii.18). (This 
compels us to try to find a rational explanation, in spite of the legendary parallels; 6 Nau 
'would willingly see here a kind of dolmen*, 7 but one might also imagine ways in which 
the stone could have been inconspicuously supported from beneath.) Now, the church 
built in the reign of Anastasius and finished in 512 was 'placed on the foundations laid 
by the angel and Mor Simeon* (Ltx, 1 o). That seems to put the composi tion of the legend 
back into the fifth century. 

On the other hand, there is a close parallel with the famous Syriac Life of Simeon the 

4 cf. Caster. The Asatir (1927). p. 214. with references. 
' Nau, Aetes du XtVe congr. orient. (Paris. 1907), p. 9 n. 1. 

Fig. 9. Profile of the stone in fig. 3. compared with those of two similar stones on either side of the entrance to 
the conventual church at Qartmin 

Stylite, which was composed shortly after that saint's death in 459. a Compare xvni. 1 2- 
18 with the following: 

Afterwards the angel took him up a mountain and made him stand on the summit of it; and he 
showed him certain stones that were placed there and said to him, 'Take them and build!' The 
holy one said to him. 'I do not know how to build, for I have never yet built anything. 'The angel 
said to him, 'Stay where you are! I shall teach you how to build,' and he brought a certain hewn 
stone that was most beautifully sculpted. This he put in Mor Simeon's hands and he said to him, 
'Set it up on the east side, and another on the north side, and another on the south side, and put 
one on top of them!' (L. Simeon Stylites, p. 510) 

If influence is admitted here, our legend belongs to the latter part of the fifth century, [t 
is therefore not improbable that it preserves a genuine, if confused and 'telescoped*, 
tradition about the way the abbey was founded, which we can deduce independently 
from the ruin itself and from the track between the ruin and the abbey. 

There are three shaped stones near the entrance of the Great Church in the abbey, 
only one of which is preserved in its entirety, although it looks as if the other two were 
once exactly like it. The truncated pair lie under the vault of the antechapel on either 
side of the door; the complete stone stands in the courtyard against the pillar to the right 
of the central arch of the arcade which forms the west side of the antechapel (fig. 8). The 
consistency of the stone is almost that of marble and its shoulders are graced with a 
wave-shaped moulding. The remaining parts of the other two stones also have trun- 
cated mouldings, the profile of which conforms approximately to the pattern of the first 
(fig. 9)- 

It is tempting to see in these the inspiration for the three stones of the legend, 'shaped 
by a craftsman of ancient times' (xvin.16). But what were they made for? Column- 
bases, or statue bases, one would think. The latter explanation may have occurred to the 
interpolator responsible for section 16 of the Qartmin Trilogy. He writes: 

* Hilgenfeld/Lietzmann. Das Leben des hetligen Symeon Stylites ( 1908), pp. 2 r 5- 23; Delehaye. Les Saints 
stylites (1923). pp. vi-xvii. 

40 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

This ruin had formerly been a house of idols and Samuel had found there the bases on which inane 
statues had been placed with their inscriptions still legible. But as soon as he erased them . . . 

The ruin in question is presumably that which was mentioned before in the founda- 
tion legend, namely the one where Samuel originally intended to settle. The translation 
of the word sheryone as 'bases' finds no support in the dictionaries, but a passage in 
the Life of Barsawmo encourages us at least to apply the word to stone, as seems 
required by the context. The writer probably envisaged the three arches as displaying 
three statues mounted on the stones I have described. Though no doubt a guess, this 
explanation should not be dismissed out of hand. The stones may indeed be witnesses to 
pagan precedence on the site either of the abbey or of the ruin. 

2. Early buildings 

a. The oratory 

Sections loand i 1 of the Lifeof Samuel were apparently written in the second half of the 
fifth century, for the reasons set out above. The writer describes the building of the first 
oratory or beth slutho: 

They began in the west side, near the two marker-stones placed by the angel and Mor Simeon. 
The first stone they placed in the foundations of the west door. On this stone they engraved a cross 
and an inscription and everyone gets a blessing from it on entering and leaving (the church]. The 
door is open to the west. A little way from it to the north on the second marker they placed 
another door, which looks south. This is called 'the Reservoir Door', (xxi.1-7) 

The angel had shown Simeon a wide area for the oratory, marked out by three 
stones. When the founders had first arrived, approaching from the east, they had found 
the Hanging Stone (xx.13) and then the other two 'placed to north and south of the 
centre' (xx.14). It is clearly these that are referred to in the passage quoted above. The 
third block is elsewhere (xvra. 15) explicitly said to be to the east of the other two. The 
'wide expanse' that the angel and Simeon measured out 'from east to west and from 
north to south' (xviii.20) is most naturally interpreted as a rectangular area (fig. 11). 
The three stones seem to have been placed in a roughly triangular formation, the axis of 
the triangle coinciding with the east-west axis of the oratory (this is the easiest way to 
understand 'the centre'). Presumably, the stone in the west door was near the south 
comer of the west wall, whereas the stone in the north door was near the west corner of 
the north wall. As for the third stone, it is likely to have marked the centre of the east 
wall, where perhaps an apse was built, as in the surviving examples of the typical Tur 
'Abdin oratory or beth stutho. 

The Hanging Stone, since it was only 'a span or more above the ground' (xvm.17) 
cannot have been the keystone of the apse, which would in any case surely not have 
caused such astonishment. More probably it was used as a lectern in front of the apse. If 
it was propped up by supports placed near the centre of its lower surface and placed in a 
shallow pit, it might have seemed to the credulous to be suspended there, and it would 
not have been easy to observe the hidden supports. 

Marked out by an angel 41 

What causes more genuine astonishment is the statement (xxi.6) that the door to the 
north of the west door 'looks south'. Even if, as seems likely, we are speaking of an open 
area with an enclosure-wall, it would be extremely odd to describe a door in the north 
side of that enclosure as looking south. The text must therefore be marked as corrupt. 
Either 'south* should be read 'north', or else a line has been left out because the scribe 
skipped from one phrase to an identical phrase in the line below. It is very easy to 
imagine this, if the original text read as follows: 'on the second marker they placed 
another door [which looks north, and to the south of it, another door] which looks 

The door to the north of the west door cannot have been another door looking west, 
for then the writer would not have spoken in absolute terms of 'the west door* (xvin. 1 3; 
xxi.3). If it is true that the Anastasian church was built on the site of this early oratory 
(lix. 10), then the existence of a cistern near the east end of the south side of this church 
may confirm my suggested emendation of the text, because the door which looked 
south was called 'the Reservoir Door** 

b. The cistern 

There is no reason to doubt that sections 1 2 and 13 of the Life 0/ Samuel are what they 
appear to be, interpolations in a pre-existent text. Thus, at the start of section 14, we 
read: 'And so let us return to our story, from where they built the Reservoir Door' 

But the writer cleverly used the interpolation to bridge a gap in the earlier text 
between the sole presence of Samuel and Simeon and the arrival of other monks, who 
helped to build the cistern, the cells and the surrounding wall, and who later added the 
'Temple of Mor Samuel' (xxvn.ijf). If such a gap existed in the earlier text, that text 
itself may have been a compilation, including the foundation legend and several records 
of building at the abbey, but excluding any discussion of how the community grew. If 
this was so, then the later redactor has probably rewritten the first line of the new section 
(xxvii. 1) to make it seem as if 'the monks', who are here introduced for the first time, 
unannounced, had somehow also been involved in building the oratory, although when 
we left them at the end of section 1 1, Samuel and Simeon were still apparently alone. 

The dimensions given for the cistern can be converted by a formula derived from 
section 19 of the Life of Gabriel and the measurements of the building there described, 
which is still standing. Taking a cubit as equal to c.40 cm we obtain: Length- 16 metres; 
breadth - 14.4 metres; height - 10 metres. 

If the data are consistent, the cistern should be identified with that on the south side 
of the Great Church, near the south-eastern angle. I have not been able to examine this 
cistern from within, so I cannot say whether it is of the right dimensions and constructed 
of three vaults. But there is another cistern to the west of the rains around the abbey, on 
the side facing Qartmin village, which very much resembles that described in our text, 
though it is bigger. The external measurements of the rectangular casing of its vault, 
which projects a few feet above the ground, are c.26 (E-W) x c.22 (N-S) metres. The pit 
within must therefore measure about 24 x 20 metres. It is divided down its length into 
three vaults, supported in the centre by four great pillars carrying six wide arches, which 

42 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Fig. to. Cistern with triple vault at west end of ruins, Qartmin 

run in two parallel lines. The height is about 10 metres. Outside, from the west, a 'gutter 
or channel', just as described in our text, leads for about too metres towards the cistern, 
apparently to collect and direct the rainwater which falls on that ground. It was recently 
renovated, as was the cistern (figs. 10 and u). 

This cistern is certainty of ancient construction. In spile of the discrepancy in size 
(and perhaps its walls are so thick that this is not so great as it appears), one might be 
tempted to identify it with the cistern described in our text. One would then have to 
argue that, in adapting the first lines of section 14, a later redactor had wrongly 
conflated this cistern (for which the word qevyo is used) and the reservoir (pesqin) which 
he presumed to have been situated outside the 'Door of the Reservoir'. The false 
measurements might be explained as an inaccurate attempt to gauge the size of the dark 
interior of a cistern that was already full of water. 

If this is correct, the phrase 'on the inward side of it' (xxvn.6) becomes easier to 
understand, since the cistern is just outside the trace of an ancient enclosure-wall; and 
the most likely place for the cells and the 'Temple of Mor Samuel' is among the ruins 
on the other side of that wall, between the cistern and the putative site of the oratory 
(fig. n). 

My suggestion is therefore that section 14 originally began: "The monks dug and 
made this deep cistern . . .' and that the interpolator of sections 12 and 1 3, in an attempt 
to make the story follow on from the end of section 1 1, which speaks of the 'Reservoir 
Door' on the south side of the oratory, added the words here bracketed: '(And outside 

Marked out by an angel 43 

this door) the monks dug [again] and made ..." Some confirmation that this is right 
might be seen in the fact that the word 'again', in this position, makes poor sense. 
The calculation of the capacity of a cistern is not a simple matter, since we should 
need to know the rainfall on the catchment area and the rate of loss through seepage and 
evaporation. Even Cuinet's estimate of five dry months in the year in our area (La 
Turquie d'Asie y 11 (1891), p. 415) and Hiitleroth's data on the average rainfall (Turkei 
(1982), fig. 35: between 600 and 1,000 mm) might need revision for ancient times, when 
the area was more densely afforested. But even if we take the capacity of the cistern 
described in the Life as being limited to a notional maximum depth of one metre we 
obtain the sum of 230400 litres (16 m x 14.4 m x 1 m), which would have had to last, 
with natural loss, not more than c. 150 days. If 1,500 litres of water were available for 
every day of the dry season, and if the builders were gauging the size of the cistern to 
cater for a maximum expected number of inmates, including visitors, we might 
calculate that the number they had in mind was c.500 (xxvii.5-6; cf. Chapter 3, n. 1 73). 

c. The wall 

On the inward side of it [the cistern] Mor Samuel and Mor Simeon and the rest of the brethren set 
to and built cells with a wall around them; and they called it Beth Shuroye; and in it they built the 
Temple of Mor Samuel, (xxvit.6-9) 

If the cistern were to be identified with the reservoir on the south side of the Great 
Temple, on the basis of the two statements (a) that it was on the south side of the first 
oratory (xxi.6-7; and (b) that the Great Temple was built on the 
foundations of that oratory (lix. 10,17-19), it is difficult to see what could be meant by 
'the inward side' of it, whether in terms of the buildings which have been described up to 
this point, or in terms of the monastic complex as a whole. If, however, the cistern is in 
fact identical with that on the south-western side of the ruins, then the phrase has a plain 
sense, both in relation to the oratory/Great Temple, and in relation to the whole 

The outline of an ancient enclosure wall can be traced around most of the ruins in a 
roughly rectangular shape. It seems to have been dismantled to its foundations, 
although on the west and on the east it has since been partially reconstructed in less 
massive and less well-cut stone. The whole circumference of the area formerly encom- 
passed is about 610 metres, which gives over 23,000 square metres of potentially built- 
up area. The original enclosure-wail described in this passage must have been rather 
smaller. It is not even said explicitly that it included the oratory, which may therefore 
have formed a separate enclosure to the north-east. The wording invites the concept of a 
space between the oratory and the cistern where the residential enclosure was built. 

The wall between the cistern and the ruins on the south-western side may therefore 
belong to the original enclosure. The foundations running out approximately south- 
eastwards across the line of the present driveway to a very clear right-angle nearan oak- 
tree, where the ground begins to slope steeply away into the valley, have every 
appearance of great antiquity (a new wall was built on them in 1 985). I suggest that these 
foundations and the wall which continues on their line to the north-west mark the 
south-west side of the original enclosure. The southern angle was that near the oak-tree 

44 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

and the western angle was where the wall now departs from the straight line of the first 
two sections. The north-western side of the putative enclosure would have extended 
from this point at right-angles towards the south-eastern wall of the burial vaults, 
including the cistern opening near the west wall of the church of the Mother of God. The 
enclosure would have included that church and the 'Cistern of the Star' to the south- 
east of it, supposing that the buildings constructed with the funds sent by the emperors 
of the House of Thcodosius were built within a pre-existing wall, except for the burial 
vaults and so on, which may have been placed outside. The Roman law forbidding 
burials within the city wall may have had an analogous effect at this date on the lay-out 
of a monastery (cf. p. 8 1). Everything that is said about the first imperial benefactions is 
compatible with this scheme, as will be explained hereafter. The enclosure thus formed 
would be approximately 6,800 m 2 . 

The meaning of "Beth Shuroye' 

They called it Beth Shuroye* (xxvii.8). In this problematic phrase, the pronoun 'it', 
being feminine, must represent the Syriac dayro, 'monastery', though that has not been 
used explicitly, for it is implicit in the preceding phrase: 'they built cells with a wall 
around them'; here the pronominal 'them', being masculine, apparently refers to the 
monks, not the cells. It was enough, therefore, to describe a group of monks surround- 
ing themselves with a wall, in order that the idea of a monastery should be suggested. 

The Syriac word here used for 'wall* is shuro. Its close proximity in our text to the 
mysterious appellation Beth Shuroye creates the strong presumption that the two are 
connected. There could be no grammatical objection to understanding shuroye as the 
plural form of an adjective formed from shuro, though the dictionaries give no support 
to this. According to them, the only meaning ofshuroyoj shuroye is 'beginning', from the 
root shari, 'he began*. If this is right, then Beth Shuroye means 'House of Bcginning(s)' 
(Beth really designates a kin-group or equivalent community with its buildings and 
fields and possessions; it is frequently found in the names of early monasteries, such as 
the abbey itself, which was once called 'umro d-Beth Mor Shenfun, 'the abbey of the 
House of M or Simeon* 9 ). The 'beginning' in question might be a spiritual one, the 'new 
beginning' of the monastic profession, or what Cyril, in his commentary on Luke, more 
generally calls 'the beginning of the world which has no end'. 10 This commentary exists 
in a Syriac translation, which translates 'beginning' (arkhe) by the plural shuroye, 
instead of the more usual singular shuroyo. It may be this rare plural that we have to deal 
with here. At another place, where it does not belong to the ancient tradition (xxix.2), 
we find the phrase: 'Samuel, abbot of the Shuroye'; the manuscripts have singular, d- 
shuroyo, but since this is a secondary accretion, it is not essential to our enquiry whether 
the text originally had the plural, as I think. 

On the other hand, 'House of Beginning' is an allusive phrase without any parallel. 
The nearest usage in monastic terminology is the word sharwoyo (from the same root 
shari), meaning 'novice'. Besides, there is evidence that the Syrians themselves later 
found the phrase baffling, and did not think to translate it in this way. Instead, they 

See Ch. 3, n. 2. 

Cyril. Comm. Luc., p. 180. 

Marked out by an angel 45 

Ke) lo oratory 

A The 'Hanging Stone' 

l),C The stones 'to left and right 
of the centre' 

D The "Reservoir Door' 

(reference is to the first part of 
the Qarimfn Trilogy) 

D Oratory of ihe Founders 

The House of the 

The House of Eternity 



». anctent wait 

& hypothetical wall 

— stone + free-standing wall 

- jrch 

ea arched recess 
a apse with conch 

|" " measurements in text 
er steps rising from [eft 
• cistern opening 

25 metres 

Fig- 1 1 . The abbey of Qartmin in ihc fifth century. a partly conjectural plan based 00 the Life of Samuel, and 
remains of the buildings there described 

46 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

apparently resorted to an identification oTshuroyo with the word sawroyo, meaning 'a 
native of Sawro', thus interpreting Beth Shuroye as 'House of Men of Sawro', because 
the Founder, Samuel, was from Eshtin in the region of Sawro. 1 1 This is certainly too 
far-fetched. 12 But if the Syrians went to such lengths of sophistry and thus apparently 
rejected the obvious meaning of 'beginning', what right have we to claim plausibility 
for it? 

We are thus driven back to the interpretation which connects Beth Shuroye with the 
juxtaposed shuro, 'wall'. The phrase apparently means 'House of the iMen of the Wall', 
This conclusion has implications. If the abbey was originally called 'monastery of the 
House of the Men of the Wall', an appellation with a distinctly local flavour and one 
which has every chance of being genuine, then it is unlikely that there existed at the time 
in Tur : Abdin another monastery with an enclosure-wall. (It is useless to designate 
someone as 'the man with the hat* if there is more than one such man in sight.) The 
abbey was therefore probably the first enclosed community in Tur Abdin. The 
significance of the enclosure for Pachomius, who is credited with its invention in Egypt, 
was both theological and disciplinary. 13 Both aspects will emerge in the discussion of 
monasticism in the next chapter, where I shall also explore the psychological dimension 
of the concept of a surrounding wall. 

d. The 'Temple of Mor Samuel' 

If an 'oratory' {beth slutho) is an uncovered area with an apse on the east side, a 'temple' 
(hayklo), by contrast, is certainly roofed. What distinction may have existed between a 
'temple' and a 'church' i^i(d)to) at this date is not yet clear. 14 1 retain the distinction in 
translation. But it should be understood that hayklo did not suggest to the Syrian mind 
a pagan building, although 'temple' may have this association in English. 

The Temple of Mor Samuel was built within the enclosure-wall, whereas the oratory 

1 ' This I infer from the use of 'Shuro' as a pseudonym for Sawro in (e.g.) Vat. Syr. MS 1 66, fol. 353b. This 
MS of the continuation of Chr. Gregory U breaks off shortly after the death of the patriarch John bar 
Shayallah in 1493. The scribe accuses 'Hisho", the bishop of Shuro*. of poisoning the late patriarch. Now. 
according to a note in Pahs Syr. MS 226 (Zotenberg, MSS Paris, pp. 173-4), which was written at the 
monastery of Mor Abay, the patriarch Ignatius Joshua, who was consecrated on 26 August 1 509 had 
previously been the resident bishop in the monastery ofMorAbay, i.e. bishop of Sawro (cf.Ch. i,n. 17). It 
seems that the scribe of the Vatican MS was writing after 1 509 and intended his accusation as a dark hint that 
this Joshua (Yeshu') of Sawro had disposed of the patriarch John in order to become patriarch himself. Such 
an accusation would have been readily believed after 1517. when Joshua defected to the Muslims (Rosen/ 
Forshall, MSS London, p. 89: Wright. MSS London, p. 625). Sawro is also called Shuro in Chr, Gregory fit, 
coll. 545, 547; cf. Pognon. Inscriptions, p. 186. where the name is misunderstood. The colophon of the Winter 
Panqitho of the church of the Mother of God at Hah, dated 1 842, refers to Qartmin as dayro d-shuroyo, 'the 
monastery of the Sawrite'. 

1 ! Shura or Sura was the name of Sawro in the ninth century sc (Kessler, Uniersuchungen. pp. 57-66); the 
improbable exchangeability of SHIN and SODHE is paralleled in L. Jacob, fol. 1789.2 (summary, p. 9), 
which gives Shiloh as the ancient name of Salah, but this is probably a late assimilation of the name with that 
of the biblical pool of Shiloah); it seems just possible that this ancient name was still current at the time of 
Samuel of Eshtin, but in view of vi.8 and L. Daniel, fol. 98a.2 (summary, p. 60), it is unlikely. 

'* H. Torp. in Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire 76 (1964), pp. 178-88. 

' * cf. Budge, in Thomas ofMarga, n ( 1 893), pp. 405-6 note; the fortieth canon of Cyriac (ad 794) seems to 
imply that 'temples' (haykle) were for regular prayers, whereas the 'church' £i(d) to) was for the Eucharist on 
Sundays and feast-days: priests serving in 'temples' are required to keep them closed on such days and to 
repair with the whole population of the place to the 'catholic church' (Can. W-Syr.. it, p. 15). 

Marked out by an angel 47 

apparently constituted a separate walled enclosure. The following section gives more 
detail as to the location of the former: '[Rumelius] built a great vault to the south of the 
Temple of Mor Samuel; and they dug two pits (cisterns), both large and deep, to north 
and to east of the Temple; lastly they built a large dome to the south of the Temple and 
of the Great Vault' (xxvti. 16-19). This description confirms the impression, given by 
the order of the narrative, that the temple was built before the benefaction of the 
emperors Honorius and Arcadius; it was therefore built before the death of Samuel. 

It may seem strange to us that a church should be placed 'under the invocation' of a 
holy man during his own lifetime. We are more familiar with the idea of a patron saint in 
heaven. Whether the monks of the abbey were 'anticipating* in the way this suggests, or 
understood this kind of church-naming in a different way is difficult to say. But there is 
no reason to suppose that the appellation is an anachronism in our text. Parallels can be 
found, notably in the Life of Daniel of Aghlosh, a younger contemporary of Samuel, 
who lived in the same limestone massif. Towards the end of Daniel's life, his son and 
disciple Lazarus conceived the idea of building a temple in his father's name and a 
'house for his bones', 'that the peoples might obtain a blessing from them'. Clearly, he at 
least was anticipating his father's 'canonization', though this process probably did not 
need official church authority, depending rather on popular belief. So Lazarus spent 
two years with a group of brothers fund-raising in the Mediterranean area and returned 
with much gold. Some of it he used to make a splendid cross and the rest he invested in a 
temple built of hewn stone, huge and solid. The demons tried to pull it down, but Daniel 
himself commanded them to put the stones back where they belonged. Whoever wrote 
this (the manuscripts claim that the author was Jacob of Serugh) saw no incongruity in 
the fact that a temple was built in Daniel's name during his lifetime. 15 

In searching for possible remains of the Temple of Samuel at the abbey our best 
guide is the fact that there were two cisterns to east and to north of it. The vault and the 
dome may have disappeared, but it is less likely that the cisterns were filled in. Now 
there is a building which seems to have been a church, to the east of which is the so-called 
Cistern of the Star (gubo d-kawkvo), while to the north there is another cistern, the 
opening of which is opposite the postern gate of the present enclosure. There is no other 
eligible building in a similar position. Moreover, it is connected with two rows of arches 
parallel to its south side which run some way beyond its west end. These may be a 
remnant of the Great Vault. 

This ruined church (fig. 12) is now called U(d)to d-mor shentun qartminoyo, 'the 
church of Mor Simeon the Qartminite'. Simeon was the disciple and successor of 
Samuel, who, as second abbot, presided over the first flowering of the community. The 
abbey was known for many centuries after him, the name of Samuel being preserved by 
tradition as the founder, but the name of Simeon being adopted to designate the 
abbey. ' a Probably the Temple of Samuel became at Simeon's death the 'Temple of Mor 
Samuel and Mor Simeon', and just as Simeon's name eclipsed that of his master in the 
title of the abbey, so he took over the sole invocation of the church. 

The building which we may now with some confidence call the Temple of Mor 
Samuel (figs. 1 1 and 12) abuts the modem abbey near its southernmost corner, so that 

'* L. Daniel, fol. ioia.3-b.t; summary, p. 62 (paraphrased). ,a See Ch. 3, n. 2. 


Marked out by an angel 



the wall on the south-western side of the enclosure blocks ' 7 the two arches at the eastern 
limit of the mined church. What lay beyond this point and, more specifically, whether 
there was a distinct sanctuary area at the east end of the church, is unknown. The 
absence ofa central archway at that end might indicate that there was not. The structure 
as it now remains is very modest, both in size and form. The exterior is invisible on the 
western and northern sides because of about three metres of accumulated rubble and 
earth, itself a testimony to the great age of the building. On the south side it adjoins a 
part of the ruins which was recently cleared and renovated and beyond which the 
ground falls away gradually. The interior of the 'temple' has been partially cleared of 
rubble, but it seems likely that the floor level is still several feet deep. 

At the west end are two arches, constructed of eight to twelve blocks of somewhat 
irregular length, which rest on the walls themselves at either side of the 'temple' and on 
shaped capitals supported by a solid pier in the centre. These arches are partially 
blocked with secondary masonry, but the building may once have been open on this 
side. The north wall stands behind a row of three slightly lower arches, each constructed 
of four to six blocks of very irregular length which are shaped to form a perfect curve. 
Between this arch and the next is a fragmentary cross engraved in the face of a stone 
which may or may not have been built into the original wall. The form of the cross is 
similar to that on the lintel of the Great Temple, which dates from the early sixth 
century and in turn resembles that on a lintel of the monastery of Mor Daniel of 
Aghlosh. Somewhat developed forms of the same cross are found on the lintel of the 
House of Saints (beth qadishe) in the monastery of Theodotos of Amida near Qeleth, 
dated to the late seventh century and in the mid-eighth-century church at $alah (fig. 1 3). 

The south side of the 'temple' has a row of three arches of similar construction to 
those on the north, except that the westernmost arch is raised above its capital on 
further blocks of stone and so overtops the others. This arch seems to have formed an 
entrance. The combined thickness of the walls and the arches on the north and south 
sides of the 'temple' suggest that it was vaulted. 

3. The first imperial benefaction 

Up to this point nothing we have learned about Samuel of Eshtin or about the 
monastery he founded near Qartmin has suggested that the small community was 
known beyond the confines of Tur Abdin. Nor do we have more than a vague idea as to 
the date of the foundation, since the passage in which a date is given (XX.15-XXI.1) is 
self-contradictory and probably belongs to the category of secondary accretions due to 
one or more later reworkings of the authentic tradition. 

Then, suddenly, in section 15, we are told that this local monastic conglomeration, 
whose only distinction, as far as we have yet discovered, was that of being the first 
walled monastery in its area, came to the attention of theemperors of the Roman world, 
Honorius (emperor of the West 395-423) and Arcadius (emperor of the East 395-408). 
These emperors, it is claimed, sent the 'chief eunuch of the king' (that is, of Arcadius), 
whose name was Rumelius, wi th gold to build further structures and dig further cisterns 

1 ' The foundations of the new building on this side have covered the eastern arches. 

50 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 


Fig. [3. A. Sixth-century cross on lintel of conventual church, Qartmin; B. Fragmentary cross immured in 
the 'Church of Mor Simeon of Qartmin'; C. Cross on lintel of burial chamber at monastery of Theodotos near 
Qeleth, late seventh century; D. Cross on lintel, monastery of Mor Daniel of Aghlosh. ?fifth century; E. Cross 
in antechapel of conventual church of Mor Jacob near Salah. ?eighth century 

at the abbey. They followed up this benefaction with yearly grants and the gift of 
liturgical vestments of great value. The income was used to buy food for the commu- 
nity, oil for the lamps, candles, and suchlike necessities. We are bound to ask some 
assurance that this remarkable report is true. It was not unusual for Christian emperors 
to be the benefactors of individual monasteries, but the remote situation of Qartmin 
and its recent emergence would invest such a benefaction with special significance if it 
actually took place. 18 

The lines concerning the relationship of the mother of Honorius and Arcadius with 
'Maximus and Domatius, sons of King Valentius' (xxvn.n-13) were written by 
someone who knew the Syriac text entitled 'the Story of the Roman saints, the sons of 
King Valentius {sic), Maximus and Dometius (var. Demetrius)'. This itself goes back to 
a story told by 'the abbot Vitimius* concerning Abba Macarius. It is entirely legendary 
and probably late in origin. 19 Prosopographicat research would be a waste of time in 
this connection. Actually, the offending lines appear to be an interpolation in our text, 
to judge by the syntax and the repetition of the names 'Arcadius and Honorius 1 . 

Arcadius and Honorius are commemorated in the Calendar of Tur'Abdin. 20 The only 

" In the last quarter of the fifth century. Zeno cultivated relations with upper-Tigritane monasteries: Lett. 
Philox. G. i. p. 1 58; LL. Eastern Saints, p. (558! (in the latter case with the gift of a village). 

'* Edited by F. Nau in PO 5.5 (19 to), pp. [344-58), with the introduction, pp. [342-3): traced to Patrplogia 
Graeca 65, cols. 173-8 and 34, cols. 253-7. ,0 Cal. TA, 10 Nov. 

Marked out by an angel 


Fig. 14. Ruins to the east of the conventual church at Qartmin 

other emperors there mentioned are Theodosius II (13 Oct., 18 Dec.) and Anastasius 
(30 Jul.), who are also recorded as benefactors in the Qartmin Trilogy (xxxi. 1 3f; 
LVtn. 1 7Q. Their names are written, moreover, in the Book of Life of the abbey. 2 ' These 
two compilations are generally reliable and were not apparently subject to the direct 
influence of our text. All the same, it could conceivably be argued that the commemora- 
tions were invented on the basis of a legend. 

The best evidence that what we have here is an authentic tradition concerning a 
benefaction by Honorius and Arcadius is the lack of sensationalism and the sobriety of 
detail in the account. As with the record concerning the first cistern, there is no intrusion 
of drama, human or supernatural, to cast suspicion on the historicity of the description; 
and if the episode had been invented, the forger might have imagined more extravagant 
'imperial buildings' than two cisterns, a long vault and a dome, or at least have invested 
them with more glamour in his description. 

Whether Rumelius existed and, if so, what sort of an official he was, must remain 
uncertain. From the position of the name in the text it seems that this was part of the 
original record; but it is quite probable that the writer was unclear as to his rank. If he 
was being accurate, the 'chief eunuch of the King* should mean the praepositus sacri 
cubiculi, or the Grand Chamberlain; this would have been one of the most powerful 
persons in the empire, especially since Arcadius was a weak ruler. " The conjunction of 
the names of the two emperors was a feature of all imperial decrees at the time, though 
only Arcadius can in fact have had an interest in the eastern borderlands. 

The silence of the Chronicle of 819 concerning this benefaction seems at first glance 

Baak of Life, p. l. " J.B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire (1923), 1, p. 33. 

52 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

to invite caution. But this chronicle does not mention the more spectacular benefaction 
of Anastasius either. Since it can be shown that the latter occurred (Chapter 4), the 
silence of the chronicler regarding the former has no weight. Instead, it seems to prove 
that, while this chronicler used an early version of the written tradition concerning the 
Founders and some other local sources at the abbey, he did not know the building 
records which our hagiographer incorporated into the developed version of the Trilogy. 
Close study of the Chronicle 0/819 reveals that comprehensiveness was not among the 
writer's aims. 

On balance, then, the benefaction appears genuine. This is a surprising conclusion, 
and one which should be backed up with some plausible explanation. The gift of a 
village to a monastery near Amida by the emperor Zeno is the only comparable 
benefaction in this region and period." The benefaction of Constantine to the Abbey 
of the Conduit of Mor Aaron in the upper Euphrates region is a fiction, probably 
inspired by our text. 24 An alleged series of monastic benefactions by Anastasius 
amounts to no more than the loan of a leaf from the history of the abbey to cover the 
historical nakedness of other monasteries in the region, 25 It is true that Theodosius II 
ordered Rabbula, the bishop of Edessa, to convert a Jewish synagogue into the Church 
of St Stephen in 41 1/12 and presumably sent some gold to help him to do this. 26 But 
such a political act in such a city is not comparable with our case. What it does show is 
that the emperor was sufficiently interested and informed about Edessa to issue a 
specific decree concerning an ecclesiastical building there. As the chief city of Mesopo- 
tamia, Edessa was naturally in the imperial eye. But what was it about Qartmin that 
brought it to the special attention of Arcadius? 

The answer must be that its situation near the south-eastern escarpment of the 
plateau of Tur c Abdin, after the cession of Nisibis the foremost bulwark of the empire 
against Persia and the chief defence of Amida, somehow made it eligible for this grant. 
But what is the connection between a community of monks and the defence of the 
frontier? It lies, surely, in the belief, shared at that time by emperor, soldier and peasant, 
that prayer has the power to ward off invaders and that righteousness and victory go 
hand in hand. 17 

" See n. 18. above. In Palestine, however, the monastery of Saba received imperial funds with which to 
build a fort for its protection, which would contain a garrison maintained at the public expense (W. 
Liebeschuetz, in Studien :u den Mititdrgrenzen Roms z ( 1977), p. 493 n. 65. referring to Cyril of Scythopolis, 
vita Sabae, p. 1 78): and the 'fortress' built by Justinian at Mount Sinai had a garrison for the protection of the 
monks (Procopius, Buildings, v.8, sceptically evaluated by Mayerson in Bulletin of the American Society of 
Oriental Research 230 (1978), pp. 331"). 

24 Leg. Aaron, pp. {329-10}; the contacts between the monastery of Aaron and that of Qartmin and the 
literary relationship of their patronal Lives are discussed in A. Palmer, 'Charting Undercurrents', in OC 70 
(1986). pp. 51-64. 

1 » Barsawm, Histotre du couveni de S. Hanania { 19 1 7). pp. 44-5, from a MS of 1 592 (Syriac and Garshuni) 
which belonged to a Syrian Orthodox house in Diyarbakir: 'All the churches of fur Abdin were built by 
Anastasius: the dome of the Saffron (Monastery) and the temple {hayklo) of Salah and the temple of Mor 
Abraham at Midyat and the temple offMor John of] Kfone and the church (H(d)to) of Amas and that of 
Kfarze and the temple of the Monastery of the Cross of Hesno d-Kifo; and the sons of Shufnay were the 
craftsmen, Theodosius and Theodorus.' Hayklo here has the meaning of 'monastic church" (cf. note 14 
above); that of Salah is dated by JNSCR. B. Mo the mid-eighth century! On the "sons of Shufnay', see ux.6- 1 5 
with the commentary on that passage in Ch. 3; they were architects, not craftsmen. 

18 Chr. Edessa 540, ao 723. 

1 T The request of a Palestinian abbot under Anastasius for a garrisoned fort to protect his monastery (see 
n. 23) is, to be sure, an indication that more realistic attitudes coexisted with this belief. 

Marked out by an angel 


Procopius tells how *a certain righteous man of the Syrians called Jacob', whose 
hermitage was a day's journey away from Amida at a place catted Endielon, mightily 
impressed the Persian shah Kawad by rendering a band of barbarian raiders immobile 
when they attempted to shoot arrows at him. When he had released them 'with a single 
word' in the presence of the shah, who had come specially to sec this miracle, Kawad 
granted Jacob his request, that all who took refuge with him from the dangers of the 
current war should have a guarantee of safety. 28 Even if this does not in itself show that 
'Procopius believed that the prayers of holy men played their part in holding the eastern 
frontier of the empire', 29 such a belief would be a natural extension of his attitude to 

A very similar passage occurs in the Life of Simeon, the second abbot of Qartmin 
(XLii.4-13). Here the connection between the repellent power of sanctity and the 
generosity of the Romans to Simeon's monastery is made explicit: 'The Persians stood 
in awe of the Blessed One and were afraid to come near his cell . . . For this reason, the 
Romans used to send many gifts to this holy place.' 

Even if we harbour reservations about the influence of such beliefs on imperial policy 
and military strategy, suspecting that, even in that age, the harsh realities of experience 
counted for more with the emperor's tactical advisers, we may see the benefaction to 
Qartmin both as a 'secondary insurance policy', backing up the military defences, and 
as a political move, designed to strengthen the morale of the peasant population of Tur 
Abdin by showing them that the holy men to whom they looked for protection in 
matters of sanity, health and agriculture were also valued by the emperor for their 
spiritual contribution to the security of the frontier. At the same time, more cynically, 
we might see this as an attempt to take advantage of the awed respect with which the 
peasant regarded the early monks by obliging the monks to demonstrate their solidarity 
with their secular rulers in a specifically Christian context, namely by a liturgical 
commemoration. This would not fail to reinforce the loyalty of the peasantry, which in 
a frontier region was as vital as it was subject to erosion under the threat of insecurity. 
With far-flung garrisons in need of essential supplies and legions which had to be 
supplemented and serviced by local manpower, the Romans would have exposed a 
vulnerable belly to widespread disaffection at ground-level. 

To what extent Roman presence in the area effectively added to the burdens borne by 
the farmers of Tur : Abdin is not explicitly documented. Even in less militarized areas the 
taxation system of the fourth and fifth centuries reduced farmers throughout the empire 
to little more than serfdom, a predicament which could only be improved by the total 
loss of freedom, in that the burden of taxation then fell on the owner of the land as lord 
of the coloni. i0 Presumably whatever demands were made by the military authorities in 
Tur 'Abdin and its environs were added to the normal requirements imposed by the 
state on the land. The billeting of troops was to some extent alleviated by the institution 
of limitanei, a class of frontier troops with estates of their own, granted in return for 
their services in defence; 3 ' but these grants of land were probably made at the expense 
of local farmers. 

" Procopius. Wars, 1.7.5-1 1. " Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (1971), p. 145. 

10 Jones, The Later Roman Empire (1964), pp. 808-12; cf. Chr. Amida jdo, vn.6. p. 36 line 7. 

Jl Jones, op. tit., pp. 649-54, 661 -3, 669-72; MacMullen, Soldier and Civilian in the Later Roman Empire 
(1963). Ch. 1; A.R. Neumann, art 'Limitanei'. in Pauly Suppl. xj (1968). cols. 875-88; W. Liebeschuetz. in 
Studien zu den Militdrgrenzen Roms 2 (1977). pp. 487-99, 

54 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Two hagiographical sources from Tur f Abdin give some insight into the Roman 
presence there. In the Life of Jacob of $alah we read of Jacob's arrival in Amida and of 
his meeting with Barshabo, the superior of a small monastery called Shurgin in Tut 
Abdin, in the house of Anthimus, a relative of the emperor Theodosius, who was the 
governor (arkhori) of Amida. Barshabo is represented as using his familiar standing 
with Anthimus to allow Jacob to join his ten disciples in the monastery. Anthimus had a 
brother, Rufus, who was the governor (arkhdn) of Hesno d-Kifo. that is, the fort of 
Kephas on the Tigris. This Rufus offered to go down with them to the monastery, since 
it was near his castle. On a later occasion he visited Jacob there, accompanied by 
Benjamin, the bishop of Kephas. 32 

The two of them visited Jacob again on the occasion of a scandal in the village of 
"Shiloah" ( = Salah), where Jacob had settled. A Roman soldier called GWStW 
(Gawson?), a very wealthy man, who lived in the village, had a daughter who slept with 
his servant Decius and conceived a child. The girl tried to put the blame on Jacob's 
disciple Holo, who had offended her by rejecting her amorous advances. But, by a 
miracle, the truth came to light and the adulterers were stoned to death by the command 
of the governor Rufus in a dry cistern. The cistern was known in the writer's time as 
'Decius' Pit*. As for the girl's father, he was expelled from the village and went down to 
the plain to the north (on the far side of the Tigris?), where he founded a village in his 
own name, Kfar Gawson. i3 The time at which all this is supposed to have happened can 
be approximately judged from the date of Jacob's death, shortly afterwards, in 42 1. 34 

The other source is the Life of Aho, whose birth is said to have occurred before the 
middle of the fifth century and who lived (so it is claimed ) 1 05 years. 3 ' A ho came upon a 
rich Roman called Maximius, living in a village not far from the Persian border on the 
south side of the river Arsenias. Here, also, there was a scandal involving a beautiful 
woman; Aho was received by Drusilla, the wife of Maximius, atone in her house in 
perfect innocence, but for a while Maximius believed the calumny of an evil-minded 
maid and clapped the holy man in jaiL Afterwards, however, he became devoted to 
him." When Aho, together with his lay patron Theodore and his disciple Heworo built 
a monastery in the thickly wooded southern part of Tur Abdin and called it the abbey of 
Bnoyel, meaning 'God- built', a certain Roman called Demetrius, who was posted at the 
castle of Tur c Abdin to the south-east of the monastery, made a benefaction to it, in 
order that there should be built in his memory a burial vault of hewn stone containing 
nine arcosolia, and a charnel-house with a stone door. 37 

From these texts we gain some understanding of the realities of the time and of the 
steps by which the abbey of Qartmin might have come to the attention of the emperor 
Arcadius. Some villages in the frontier area were inhabited by limitaneU a landed 
frontier militia, probably of foreign extraction, who seemed wealthy by local standards, 
although in fact they were of inferior status in the army. Gawson and Maximius were 

,l L. Jacob, foil. J76b.2-I77a.3; summary, pp. 6-8. 

» L Jacob, foil. i79b.i-i8oa.2; summary, pp. 10-1 1 . >« L , Jacob, fol. i8ob.3; summary, p. 1 1. 

11 L Aho. foil. 176a. 177a, 190b; cf. Vddbus, Aha. pp. 9-10. 

36 L. Aho. foil. l85a-b, 1860-1873; cf. Assemani. MSS Vatican. II, p. 249. 

17 I, Aho. fol. 184a; cf. Voobus, Aha. pp. 25-6. The word translated as 'arcosolia: is arsoiho. "beds' (cf. 

XXX!. 18). 

Marked out by an angel 


two such; but if the militia was of an appreciable size the pattern must have been a 
general one. (Limitanei called Constans and Severianus may have founded the villages 
of Beth Qustan and Beth Svirina in Tur Abdin.) Inevitably they came into contact with 
the holy men who lived around the village and, if they were sufficiently impressed, they 
would spread the rumour of them in the military community of the region. The officers 
and commanders in the nearby forts of Tur "Abdin and of Hesno d-Kifo were sometimes 
interested enough to come out and visit the holy men themselves and even to fund 
buildings in their monasteries. Through such connections with men like 'Demetrius' 
and Rufus a monastic superior such as Barshabo could obtain an introduction to the 
head of the army forces in the region, the governor of Amida. Their familiarity might be 
such that the monk was invited to lodge for a time in the house of the governor. When 
such an eminent man as Anthimus was so familiar with the superior of a tiny 
community in Tur c Abdin, i t should cause no amazement that the abbey of Qartmin was 
noticed in this way and reported to the emperor, who for some reasons as I have 
mentioned made this important benefaction. 

e. The buildings attributed to Honorius and Arcadius 

The faithful kings Honorius and Arcadius sent gifts with much gold in the hands of Rumclius, the 
king's [Arcadius*] chief eunuch, and they arrived at this place and set down in it wealth without 
end; and he [Rumelius] built a great vault to the south of the Temple of Mor Samuel; and they dug 
two great, deep pits, one to the north and one to the east of the Temple. Furthermore, they built a 
great dome to the south of the Temple and the great vault. 

(xxvit. 13-19) 

This passage has already been quoted to situate the Temple of Mor Samuel. If my 
identification of that building was correct, then the row of arches parallel to the south 
side of it almost certainly formed one side of the Great Vault. The first two of these 
arches are placed exactly opposite the two easternmost arches on the south side of the 
Temple. The wall between has been pierced for a doorway beneath the eastern arch and 
has either fallen down or been dismantled to half the height of the other arch. Opposite 
the high arch at the west end of the south side of the temple has been built a vertical- 
sided corridor which was no doubt roofed over, the other end being crowned by a 
horizontal lintel-stone. 

Beyond this the row of arches continues within a recently restored group of 
secondary buildings of uncertain date. These arches are blocked up with masonry, the 
other side of which is a deep layer of earth and rubble. Beyond these, and as far as the 
enclosure-wall, both this row of arches and a matching row opposite to it have been 
preserved. The original vault had 19 bays, at least. Not a trace of the 'great dome' has 
survived above ground; but the ground slopes away on this side of the abbey and it is 
likely that the present driveway was levelled above further ruins. 

For some reason the writer of this record declined to explain the function of any of 
these buildings. The commentary on fig. 28 suggests a function to which the Great Vault 
was put at a later date. It is possible that the dome was a baptistery; 38 and if the pits were 
intended as additional cisterns to meet the needs of an expanding community, the vault 

" cf. the discussion at the end of Ch. 4. 

56 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

may have been a kind of extension of the temple, to accommodate greater numbers at 
prayer (fig. u). 

Just to the north of the Temple of Mor Samuel' are the remains of tw^piers 
constructed of brick masonry which were evidently part of a row of large and high brick 
arches. One of these arches was still standing in 1909 with the wall between it and the 
'temple' and a part of the 'inner wall' which filled the interstice between the arches; 
Gertrude Bell's photograph is published by Marlia Mango under the title 'Church of 
Mar ShinVun'. 30 Bell herself seems vague about the exact location of the church of Mor 
Simeon the Qartminite,* but the present inhabitants of the abbey identify it with the 
building which I have described as the Temple of Mor Samuel". Beyond this, only 
conjecture is possible. If the brick arches in fact belonged to the 'temple', then the 
building I have described under that title is part of the Great Vault, which must then be 
conceived of as a complex unity. This would explain the similarity of form in its two 
parts, but the similarity can equally be attributed to the builders of the 'Temple' having 
gone on without a break to construct the vault. If, on the other hand, the brick arches 
belong to another building not mentioned in our sources, might this not be a church 
built for Mor Simeon beside that of his master Samuel? The community seems to have 
swollen dramatically in Simeon's time and this might explain the construction of a 
much bigger church, although two extra churches had already been provided by 
Theodosius II, as we shall see in a moment. 

The importance of the benefaction for the date of the foundation 

The sources which were consulted for an insight into the contacts between holy men and 
the Roman military authorities do not have impeccable credentials; they arc far from 
being contemporary biographies of the men concerned. With the various literary 
embellishments and legendary accretions certain anachronisms and historical absurdi- 
ties were introduced.* 1 Yet, as in the case of the Life of Samuel, a core of authentic 
traditions can be discerned. Not all of the material brought to bear on our question 
necessarily belonged to that core, but the existence of the authentic tradition should 
make us more willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.* 2 To take a more negative view 
would simply throw us back on pure conjecture; as it is we have a guide which is at least 
plausible and which may be true. 

These sources cast some light on the way in which a small monastic community could 
come to the attention of important men in the regional administration. This would 

" f*/'^" 8 ^ l At PL 209 " ^"/Mango.TVl, p. 6. «■ cf. V66bus, Aha, pp. 25-6. 

,n *- ^«o the description of the natural disasters which caused Tur Abdin to boioinc virtually deserted 
(loll. loob-tgra) may well correspond 10 those recorded in the chronicles (Voobus, Aha, pp. 10-1 1 withn io) 
and there are many other aspects of the text which recommend it historically (cf. Baumslark. Geschichte. p. 
|93>- m L. Jacob, the record concerning Constantius' construction of forts in Tur Abdin (Wright MSS 
London p. 11 j6; L. Jacob, fol. i 77 a.j; summary, p. 7) has found general acceptance with htstorians'of the 
eastern i frontier (Honigrnann. DMstgrenzeJesbyzantMschenReichesimslPp.A-Siincomctmt^tion 

?n?r 5 ., . ? L,gh L f °° 1 ^ Thc Eastcrn Frontier of the Roman Em P'«'. unpublished doctoral thesis 
£»'oni, 198 1 ), p. 75 n . 1 8, p. 86), and the narrati ve concerning Anlhimus, Rufus (Anthemius. Rufinus?) and 
Bishop Benjamin seems plausible, although the relationship between the two 'brothers' and the emperor may 
be more symbolic than real. 

Marked out by an angel 


doubtless have been the channel which led on up to the emperor's ear. The community 
of Samuel of Eshtin had acquired considerable proportions, in comparison with that of 
Barshabo at Shurgin, and had erected an enclosure which was something of a novelty in 
the region, before the decree went out from the throne to supply it with funds. The 
actual arrival of Samuel and Simeon on the site of the future abbey must therefore be 
dated some years before the reign of Arcadius (395-408). Even if the benefaction 
occurred towards the end of that reign (which might contradict xxvin. 1 by implication), 
it is impossible that only a decade passed between the original settlement of hermits and 
the imperial decree. The Chronicle of 8 19 records the finding of 483 skulls in the burial 
vault at Qartmin as early as the year 443/4. 

A later hand has interpolated an exact date into the foundation legend, purporting to 
mark the moment at which Samuel and Simeon began to build their beth slutho or 

They set to and began with the building of the abbey in the year seven hundred and eight of 
Alexander, son of Philip first king of the Greeks [ad 396/7), when Arcadius Caesar held the chief 
place in the kingdom of Constantinople, while Honorius was king of the Romans. (xx. 15-18) 

A further interpolation synchronizes this wrongly with the reigns of Cyril of 
Alexandria and Celestine of Rome, which coincided between 422 and 432. The tertiary 
nature of this synchronism is betrayed by the words: This being the date at which this 
holy abbey began to be built* (xx. 19), which repeat the sense of part of the preceding 
passage.* 3 

The synchronism with Cyril and Celestine was added as a literary flourish, giving 
spurious historical colouring in a manner paralleled elsewhere in our text.** We need 
only consider seriously the date 396/7. This is found also in the Chronicles.* 1 That of 
819 reads as follows: 'In the year 708 the monastery of Qartmin was built by Samuel, the 
first abbot, and his disciple Simeon, to whom an angel showed the outline and the 
measurement of the foundations.* 

The Chronicle of 846, which derives its notices on Qartmin from that of 819, here 
surprises us by claiming more specific knowledge of the foundation date. It was 'one 
year and ten months before' the consecration of John Chrysostom.** This is such an 
exact interval that the only explanation for its introduction by the Chronicle of 846 is a 
(lost) liturgical commemoration of the 'foundation' of Qartmin by Honorius and 
Arcadius in the month of April. The chronicler of 846 probably knew that Chrysostom 
was consecrated in February and his interval is calculated on the basis of two false dates 
present in the Syrian chronographical tradition: the beginning of the reign of Arcadius 
and Honorius in AG 708* 7 (whence the 'foundation date' of Qartmin) and the consecra- 
tion of Chrysostom in ag 710. 

If the date of the foundation in the Chronicle of 819 was derived from a liturgical 
commemoration mentioning the benefaction of Arcadius and Honorius, the question 
arises: why did that chronicle not record this benefaction? Perhaps the calendar entry 

*' Capizzi, L "unperatore AnasiaiioI{ 1 969). put. bases his theory, that the 'Great Temple' of Anastasius 
was just a completion of Arcadius* building programme, on a misleading passage (fol. 50a-b) in the Berlin 
Paraphrase. ** Lxxn.3-6. ** Including Chr. Gregory if, cols, no, 121. on which see p. 159. 

** Chr, Harran' 846, p. 207. * T Chr. Michael 119}, vm.ia. p. 163. 

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62 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

The full story of the Egyptians and their burial in the sepulchre which bears their name 
is not told until 17 10, when the following account was written in the Berlin Paraphrase 
(foil. 86b-88a): 

Hearing of the fame and the miracles of the abbey, 800 Egyptian princes came as pilgrims to see it, 
bearing gifts of gold. When they saw it and the stone suspended in the air,'* they all became 
monks and sold their horses and used their gold and silver to build themselves cells. Soon their 
asceticism made them great healers and exorcists. They built themselves a dome, for which they 
made fine doors. ' J Inside they put many hanging lamps. They instructed the other monks to bury 
them all in this sepulchre; and so it came to pass. Afterwards there died two monks who had been 
disciples of the Egyptians and before their death they asked to be buried with their masters. Their 
bodies were duly placed in the dome and the community began the seven days of prayer which 
custom prescribes before a burial. But the next day, when they came with incense to pray for 
them, the two monks were lying in the yard in front of the dome. That night the Egyptians 
appeared to one of the monks and said to him, 'Please tell your brother-monks to bury those 
disciplesof ours in the yard outside the dome. That is our will; for we are the 800 Egyptiansand no 
addition or subtraction can be made from our number, nor will we allow anyone from this 
country to mix with us.' So that is what the monks did; and the dome is called "dome of the 
Egyptians' to this very day. 

The Chronicle 0/819 records the cleaning of a sepulchre, called beth qvuro, 'House of 
Burial*, at the abbey 'in the days of Mor Gabriel, bishop of Dara and abbot of 
QartminV* The date, which is obscured by a lacuna, was apparently 643/4 and the 
number of skulls found is given as 82. Later someone wrote in the margin 'eight 
hundred', though whether he meant to subsitute this as the whole number or was simply 
correcting the 'eighty' and meant that the sum was 802 is unclear. It is possible that 
rightly or wrongly, the cleaning-out of 643/4 was identified with that ascribed by the 
Life of Gabriel to the year 648, an identification which might have been aided by the 
lacuna in the Chronicle 0/819, and that the marginal note was an attempt to harmonize 
the two. Conceivably the 'two disciples' of the 800 Egyptian monks, whom the legend 
describes as attempting to add themselves to their number in burial, owe their existence 
to this ambiguous marginal note. 57 

g. The church of the Mother of God (xxxi.16) 

From what follows we learn that this church should be sought on the south side of the 
burial vault, which, as we shall see, is certainly identical with that which stands now. In 
this positton we find an ancient church, no longer in use, but still called after the Mother 
of God (fig. 19)." It is entered through a small door in the north wall, within which 

Jh Cf A X !i" I5 "' 8; ?u P f iy ' S " Mon,hs " a St™" Monastery (1895), pp. a,.,-,*, has a much- 
embroidered of these legends, which explains why the stone was no longer hanging in the air in his 

r Z J^t ^ °! U fc 5 3 ' ™??\ among othcr * fts of Bish °P Philoxenos Qawme of Beth Svirina (d. 
1454/5) a door for the dome of the Egyptians'. 

ninl iS^ST? *'!£ P " : thC bCU ^ U a L " odd ° nc - sin " ,hc tcx « «*** * In «** y^S-M .. and in the year 
nine [lacuna] and in the next . . . and in the year 955 ..." 

(heir two disciples, who are buned by the door of the Dome.' 

»• Bel!/Mango r^l, P p.6.9.3i. t38~9. figs. 5. «9: Villard. Lechiese delta Mesopotamia (1940), p. 77 fig 
based " 3Uth0rS arC " tremely loosc »" d ,hcir la,c datin « « f the church is insecurely 

Marked out by an angel 


Fig. 19. The church of the Mother of God: interior. Qarimin, Tfifth century 

three steps lead down to the floor-level. When we consider that the level from which this 
descent begins is that of the sixth-century buildings of the east end of the abbey, we must 
treat this as an indication of great antiquity. The other two entrances in the south and 
west walls of the church were long ago blocked up. Outside them the level of the ground 
has now reached above the relieving arches over their lintels. The floor of the church is 
paved with ancient flag-stones. 

The nave is roofed with three vaults running from east to west, which are supported 
by four rows of three arches each. These rest in turn on piers similar in form to those of 
the Temple of Mor Samuel' and of the adjoining 'vault', though they are of greater 
proportions. The outer rows of arches are joined to outer walls, in the same way as those 
of the 'temple'. The vaults are constructed in the distinctive thin bricks of the Late 
Antique period, which continued in use in Tur 'Abdin into the eighth century. 59 They 
are barrel-vaults, braced by two brick arches which divide them into three square areas. 
These areas are spanned with concentric brickwork of chiastic formation. The vaults 
have been plastered over and it is only where the plaster has fallen away that the 
brickwork can be seen, but it can safely be assumed elsewhere. For some reason an extra 
vault has been added later at a lower level between the four central piers at the west end, 
and extra piers of inferior construction have been built next to these to support it. The 
plasterwork of this later vault exhibits a curious design, moulded in relief: a right hand 

As in the church at $alab, dated by INSCRR. B.1-7. 

64 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

• 4 


Fig 20. A. Design with interlocked crosses and outspread fingers moulded on plaster vauJl in the church or 
the Mother of God, Qaruron; B. Design of vault in monastery of Mor Malke near Arkah. as described in the 
sixteenth-century biography of John Bar Shayallah: C. Stone panel carved with interlocking crosses from 
outer wall of apse, conventual church of Mor Jacob. Salah, mid-eighth century 

with fingers spread and, beside it, a 'cross of crosses', or six crosses joined to form a 
seventh. 60 

There is a small rectangular slot for a window - above the blocked-up west entrance 
to the nave - and a larger window, arched over in brick, high up under the vault above 
the sanctuary entrance in the east wall of the nave. The sanctuary was therefore 
originally roofed at a lower level, the height of which is perhaps shown by the present 
ceiling. A flight of stairs in the south chamber of the sanctuary apparently led up onto 
this lower roof, which may therefore have been flat. 

The main entrance to the sanctuary is constructed in the same way as the doors of the 
nave, with a massive solid lintel the thickness of the wall and an open semicircular 
relieving arch over that as wide as the rectangular doorway below. There are three steps 
up from the floor of the nave. On either side of these steps are later structures of stone 
and mortar, being perhaps a book-cupboard and a lectern for the husoyo 61 on the right 
and a throne for the bishop on the left. Certain fragments of disc-shaped marble blocks 
are reused here, of which similar remnants are found elsewhere in the abbey. One which 
has been built into a niche in the sanctuary of the Anastasian church bears a 'runic' 
inscription (fig. 21), which has not yet been deciphered. 61 The discs arc hollow on one 
side with a circular rim. There may also have been a central projection on the hollow 
side. The other side is smooth. I cannot guess for what purpose they were made. 

The two side-chambers of the sanctuary also have doors into the nave, the one on the 
left being arched and of recent reconstruction, together with much of the wall around it, 
while that on the right is a plain rectangle in a wall built (as far as the plaster covering 
allows it to be examined) of larger and more credibly ancient blocks of stone. I could not 
see whether there had once been a relieving arch over the lintel of this door, which was 
subsequently blocked up and plastered over, but I suspect so. To the left of this door is a 
masonry sink with a drain, which may be a font. 

«u*° t J °!L n bar 3 , hay r ail ^ t 'I }- l 5b: ,he P*™«* built at the monastery of Mor Malke in fur Abdin a 'fine 
• !"£.'• 1 Va " h hc bound t0 8 eth « with a cross of crosses, that is. four crosses' (fig. 20) 

The frapon a book of homilies composed around the prayers of propitiation (hence the name) which 
accompany the burning of incense. 

Marked out by an angel 

Fig. 21. Undeciphercd 'runic' characters inscribed on disc-shaped stone reused as shelf in the main 
sanctuary, Qartmin 

The interior of the sanctuary has been much rebuilt. The wall between the central 
and the north chamber seems original, and it has a door with a solid horizontal lintel 
and a relieving arch. But the wall on the other side, between the central chamber and 
that on the south, is secondary. It was built to enlarge the south chamber at the expense 
of the central chamber and there is no passage between them. The altars in the north and 
central chambers (there is none in the south chamber) do not appear to be very old; but 
the stone tablet on the central altar bearing a beautiful cross (fig. 22) may well be early. 

The south wall of the south chamber, above the flight of stone steps which once led 
onto the roof, is pierced by a tiny window. The east wall has a larger hole in it, through 
which you can enter what must have been a hermit's cell in the interstice between this 
building and those to the east of it. From this cell a tunnel leads through the rock 
underground for 1 5 metres to the cistern called the 'Pit of the Star'. This gave the hermit 
a private and suitably mortifying passage to the water-supply.* 3 

I see no reason to doubt that this ancient church was built under Theodosius II, as 
our text indicates. Gertrude Bell thinks it later than the Anastasian church; but she 
admits that she has 'no means of dating it' except its slightly more accurate orienta- 
tion. 6 * It does not seem self-evident that this makes it later, but even if it does, the 
circumstance might be explained by the fact that the Anastasian church was built 'on 
the foundations' of the original fourth-century oratory, from which it will thus have 
derived its orientation to the north of east. 43 The depth at which the floor is now and the 
similarity of the piers with those of the 'Temple of Mor Samuel' and the associated 
Arcadian 'vault' are powerful evidence in favour of an early fifth-century date. 

"Sir Harold Bailey's opinion is that they most nearly resemble Turkic runes (personal communication). 

81 Compare the 'prisons' described towards the end of Ch. 3. Already in 1909 the church of the Mother of 
God had acquired an upper storey and the function, as it appears from Gertrude Bell's photograph, of a 
fortress. The upper storey is still called txsno, 'the fortress". It is there that the nuns, who have come to the 
abbey during the last two and a half decades, are housed. Around an unroofed courtyard are the modest 
buildings in which all the cooking and baking, the washing and the sewing of the modern community is 
performed. One of these rooms bears an inscription dated 1953. In 1983 a massive extension began to be built 
on the south side. ** Bell/Mango, TA, pp. 9, 13; cf. n.58. 

41 LK.9-10. 15—19; LXi.4-9; cf. Pognon. Inscriptions, p. 4if n.i; E. Heinrich, Kunst des Orients 1 (1950), 
p. 16. 

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68 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Fig. 25. South vault of the 'House of Martyrs', Qartmin 

Above these a thick wall was built onto the wall of the original chamber, out of which 
were cut four high windows with splayed casements above the four arches." 

Two barrel-vaults were then constructed of finely hewn stone without mortar, 
resting on a wall above the pairs of arcades on either side. The curve of these vaults cuts 
across the top of the casements of the four windows. Finally, under all the arches except 
those on cither side of the bottom of the stairway were installed what our text calls 
'beds', though the word here denotes the 'benches' otarcosolia. These were designed to 
carry the relics of the holy dead who were entombed here. There are, as our text 
correctly states, fifteen 'beds' in all, counting the three tombs which fill the space 
between the two vaults as single 'beds'. The relics were fenced off by thin vertical walls 
of masonry between the upright piers of the arches, forming a continuous wall at waist- 
level or above along the inside of the arcades. These tombs were covered after each new 
burial with a sloping roof of masonry. Some have at the comers moulded humps 
resembling the horns or acroteria on a late antique sarcophagus such as that of St Jacob 
in the crypt of his church at Nisibis. 

In the floor of the vaults are two ancient marble reliquaries, their pointed 'roofs' 
projecting above the pavement and having a hole in the 'gable' through which the holy 
dust can be touched.* 7 

Although it was called 'House of Martyrs', there is reason to believe that abbots and, 

•• One of these windows is still open; it can be seen from outside in the corridor, about two metres above 
the ground, over the recent tomb of Bishop I warns Afrem. who died in 1984. 

. k,, V^ponu. Oeyr-tl-Umur larihi ( 197 1). p. 18 has a plan which marks the reliquary in the north vault as 
mat ot i>amuel of Eshtin and that in the south vault as belonging to Gabriel of Beth Qus|an 

Marked out by an angel 69 

Fig. 26. Arch of the former 'House of Apostles', incorporated in eighth-century anteroom to burial-vaults, 
dated by the inscription (INSCR. A. 3) on the vault 

later, bishops and patriarchs were buried there. Since the ascetic life was seen as a kind 
of martyrdom and all these men were monks, no contradiction is necessarily implied. 
However, it is possible that when it was originally built, the first relics to be installed 
there were those of actual martyrs, at least supposedly so (cf. xxn. 18-19; xxm.6,15). 
Above the crypt was built 'a Temple to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste'. There is no 
evidence of the claim that the abbey possessed relics of these famous martyrs before an 
inscription of 1867; at that date they were supposed to rest in tombs to the right and left 
of the entrance to the sanctuary of the conventual church together with relics of Sts 
Scrgius and Bacchus and St Isaiah of Aleppo. 68 

j. The 'House of the Apostles* 

and outside it (the burial vault) [they built] another house which is called the House of the 
Apostles (xxxi. 19) 

41 truer. J 78, where, however, the text is inaccurate in many places; it should read: 'In the year 1867 of 
Christ came Mor Ignatius the patriarch / of Antioch, who is Jacob II, the weak, and consecrated chrism 
(myron) / and plastered the church and opened these tombs of the Forty / Martyrs and Mor Sergjus and 
Bacchus and Mor Isaiah of Aleppo.' Jarry might also have noted that this inscription is sculpted in relief, not 
incised. Isaiah of Aleppo, apostle of Anhel in "fur Abdin. is the subject of a legend (AMS ill, pp. 534-7 1 ) in the 
Awgin Cycle. 

70 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Fig 27. Vaulting-bnck excavated in western ruins of Qartmin Abbey. The brick is slightly tapered, being 4 1 
cm long and decreasing from 26 x 5 cm to 22 x 4cm. his marked down its length in the centreof one side with 
a ag-zag pattern. A similar trade-mark. Ranked by two straight lines, was found on a vaulting-brick in a 
TfifthHcentury church at Hah. That brick, from the vault behind the sanctuary of Mor Sovo, measured 
approximately 44 x 30 cm. with a thickness of 3.5 cm. and was slightly tapered, like that at Qartmin. The 
bricks in the two arch-bases on the north side of the ruin in fig. 1 2 measure 4 1 x 3 1 x 3 cm. pace Bell (Bell/ 
Mango. TA, p. 9 with nn. 30 and 59). The latest dated brick vault in Tur Abdin is that at $alab, which was 
erected m the mideighth century. The brick factories are likely to have been on the banks of the Tigris; the 
modem kilns near Diyarbakir arc constructed of the bricks being baked 

The writer docs not use the normal phrase for 'outside' (I-varmen), but he turns it round 
-mene(h) wa-l-var - and says 'from it and outwards'. This apparently means 'next to 
the entrance of it', an interpretation confirmed by the statement that the Temple of the 
Forty Martyrs was built 'above these buildings'; for thestructure of the 'temple* extends 
over both the burial-vaults and their antechambers. These antechambers are divided by 
a wide stone arch, the further chamber being a step higher. In the west wall of each 
chamber can be seen a stone arch as wide as that between the chambers, but springing 
from carefully shaped capitals engaged in the wall (fig. 26). These arches have been 
blocked up with masonry. Their upper part is still visible above ground outside the 
monastery; it is clear that, before they were blocked up, they were plastered on the inside 
and outside. Some of the plaster survives with faint traces of a fine painted inscrip- 
tion. 69 The House of the Apostles was therefore apparently open on the west side, 
perhaps to enable more people to participate in whatever prayers were said in that 

*° INSCR. C.4. 

Marked out by an angel 71 

Length 0!' wull 6.7 m. 
Thfcknesi of wall 1.7 m. 
Width of doors 0.65 m. 
Width of pipes 12-14 cm 


Fig. 28. Wall with internal systems of pipes built across the former 'Great Vault' at Qartmin, now called the 
'Bath House'. The wall is represented as partially diaphanous. The pipes are lined with waterproof mortar. 
The precise way in which the lateral pipes were linked with those at right-angles to them is unclear because of 
damage, nor has it been discovered how the three systems were related. The parallel pipes suggest circulation; 
perhaps the horseshoe-shaped furnace which was discovered nearby with ash in it was used to heal water, so 
that steam could circulate in the wall. The great blocks of stone of which it is built would retain the heat and 
radiate it into the rooms on cither side. This explanation, suggested to me by Simon Ellis, would make this a 
unique example of such a technique. When the observations underlying this reconstruction were made (in 
1978), the lowest part of the wall was covered in rubble and of the lateral pipes only those marked a and b were 
actually recorded, the rest of the lateral pipes at that level being supplied by conjecture. Since then the rubble 
has been removed, though unscientifically, and the tower pipes have been sealed with cement. 

confined space. In 757/8 an inscription was moulded in plaster on the vault of the 
southern antechamber to commemorate the making of 'this house'. 70 The way this 
vault meets the west wall with its incorporated arch, cutting ofTa part of one side of it, 
shows that the arch belonged to an earlier structure. Further renovation work carried 
out in [900 in 'this building which is in the House of Saints' was recorded in a stone 
inscription carved in relief above the entrance. Already in 1 835/6, in the first year or two 
of the reoccupation of the abbey after it had been empty of monks for 120 years, the 
tomb of John the Arab, which stands in the north-west corner of the further chamber, 
had been renovated. 7 ' On the east side of this chamber is a makeshift altar, but no clue 
as to the original design. Both chambers are vaulted from north to south. 

The Chronicle ofEdessa records that Bishop Ibas (429-48) built a new church in that 
city 'which today (c.540) is called the House of the Apostles*. 71 From this it is clear that 

,0 INSCR. A.3; perhaps *this outer house*. 

' ' Date scratched in cement while wet; on the long desertion of the monastery, see S.P. Brock. Osik. Si. 28 
(1979), p. 169 (translating a note in the Panqitho of the Saints). 

1 * Chr. Edeaa $40, p. 7; for the date of this chronicle see A. Palmer, Byzantine and Modem Greek Studies 
12 (1988), pp. 122-4. 

72 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

the Theodosian House of the Apostles of the abbey might have been a church. But, if so, 
it was of a peculiar shape. Perhaps it was originally given some other name and acquired 
this title after the Founders, Samuel and Simeon, were entombed in the vault. It seems 
that they might have been designated as 'Apostles'; for in the Life of Gabriel we read 
that Gabriel's relics were exhumed in the 770s and afterwards returned 'in a bronze 
coffin together with the Apostles' (xct.15). Gabriel himself is called an Apostle at and in several panegyrics from the twelfth century onwards. 7 * 

k. The Temple of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste ( 

It seems improbable that anything more than a shadow of the groundplan of this 
building survived to be recorded by Gertrude Bell. 7 * It was a small chapel with 
transverse nave, antechapel and sanctuary, which was entered through a narrow door. 
Restoration work was done in the three rooms beyond the antechapel in 1 955, as can be 
seen from a plaster inscription on the vault. 

It is very interesting to read of paintings in the interior of this temple and of the 
House of Apostles (possibly the burial vaults arc also included in 'these same build- 
ings'), and strange that the writer was more interested in the range of colours used than 
in what was represented. His failure to describe this does not mean the paintings were 
not representational; the record of the Anastasian building equally neglects the 
subject-matter of the fine mosaics, which have fortunately survived in part. 7 5 It is also 
interesting that the writer portrays 'the Serene King' as issuing detailed instructions 
about the buildings, as if he did not simply send money, perhaps with craftsmen and 
architects, and leave the designs to them in consultation with the monks, but actually 
knew beforehand what was required. Is this the writer's fancy or does it go back to some 
document drafted in Theodosius' name? 

7J [Br. Lib] Add. (MSJ 18.820 (c. end I2lh cent), foil. 15b. 16a; Add. 17,272 (13th cent.), fol. 9a; Add. 
' 7.23 1 (1484). fol. 1 53a. Several of these do not explicitly call Gabriel an apostle, but compare him to Peter. 
'Apostle* is a term applied generally to bishops. 

'* Bell/Mango. TA t p. 33, fig. 20; converted into library in early 1980s. 

7J Lv111.17-Lx1.12; sec Hawkins/Mundcll. "Mosaics'. 

Community and individual: Patterns in 
upper-Tigritane monasticism 

1. The succession to the abbacy 

Samuel of Eshtin died on 15 May (xxxn.7). The year is not recorded, which makes it 
certain that the information was preserved in a calendar of annual commemorations - 
the ancestor of the Calendar of Tur % Abdin, which notes this event. If that ancestor 
specified that it was on the third day of the week that Samuel died, and if the narrator of 
the Life has correctly placed his death about the time of the Theodosian benefaction of 
409. the years 406 and 4 1 8 would be eligible. But our suspicion is awoken by the fact that 
Simeon of Qartmin is also said to have died on a Tuesday (Li.9), although this cannot be 
reconciled with the year and the date of the month given for his commemoration, while 
Gabriel of Beth Qustan probably did die on a Tuesday and so may have been the 
prototype to which Samuel and Simeon were assimilated. 1 It seems that the hagiogra- 
pher who made a trilogy of the Lives of these men, and who in his introduction drew a 
comparison between their number and that of the Trinity (11.13-19), attempted to relate 
their deaths symbolically by making them all occur on the third day of the week. This 
detail cannot, therefore, help us to find the year of Samuel's death; but since his disciple 
died in 433 we may concur with our author in placing it c.410. 

Of his successor surprisingly little is known, considering the evidence of his fame in 
antiquity. His name virtually eclipsed that of his master, in the sense that the abbey was 
known well into the ninth century as that 'of the House of Mor Simeon'. 1 Perhaps this 
was because he presided over il in the period immediately following the benefactions of 
the Theodosian emperors. The Syriac Acts of the second Council of Ephesus in 449 
corroborate the impression we gain from the part played in that council by the monk 
Barsawmo: that the monastic superiors of the eastern Roman empire enjoyed consider- 
able influence in the reign of Theodosius II. 3 This seems to have been because of their 

1 lxxxvii. 19-20, with pp. 156-57. 

* Lv.t-2; LXvn.5-6; L. Theodotos. fol. 6oa.3; Wright. MSS London, pp. 533. 550 (two ninth<entury 
colophons). In 1 1 80 the ancient appellation is found in Br. Lib. Add. MS 1 4,690: 'in the holy and sacerdotal 
abbey of the House of Mor Simeon, of Qartmin' (likewise J .P. P. Martin, in J A vt. 14 ( 1 869), p. 354 ('sacerdotal 
abbey of Mor Simeon', in 1 135)) and as late as i4i3wefinditagain(referencemislaid;cf.Ch.5,n.57;Ch.6.n. 


1 Acts Ephesus 449, p. 12: a letter from Theodosius and Valentinian. evoking the struggle between the 
eastern abbots and certain eastern bishops 'who are tainted with the wicked opinion of Nestorius': 
Honigmann, Batsauma, pp. 6-8. 

74 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

'Alexandrian* theological sympathies, as opposed to the 'Antiochene* influence which 
had gained currency among the eastern bishops.* The same tendency was to put them 
on the wrong side of the Council of Chalcedon in 45 1 . 

When Sozomen, the ecclesiastical historian, writing in the 440s, 5 remarked that 
Syriac monasticism flourished in the region of Edessa and 'around Mount Gaugalion' 
in the province of Amida, 6 he was probably referring with the latter phrase to the whole 
of the limestone massif south of Amida. The Syriac name Beth Gawgal is found 
specifically attached to a part of the southern escarpment ofTur c Abdin. ' But Sozomen, 
drawing on oral traditions concerning the recent past,* picks out, as leaders of the 
monastic movement there, two men called Daniel and Simeon.* Unless these famous 
'ecclesiastical philosophers' have disappeared without trace in the native sources, they 
must be Daniel of Aghlosh, founder of the monastery now known as the Der Matina to 
the west of Mardin, 10 and Simeon, second abbot of Qartmin. Daniel's son, Lazarus, 
had spread his fame in the West by a fund-raising journey of two years' duration; he 
used the money to build a church in his father's honour before the lalter's death in 
439.' l Sozomen began to write very shortly after this, which may explain how he came 
to hear of Daniel. As for Simeon, it is perhaps not surprising that there should be some 
general awareness of his existence, as he was the head of a community marked out for 
special favour by the emperor, a distinction which was to be shared in the latter part of 
the fifth century by the abbey of Mor John the Urfian. 12 

This abbey of Mor John, to the north of Amida, just outside the city wall, was 
fortunate in counting John of Ephesus among its alumni. In 566 this author set down the 
tradition concerning the history of his abbey as he had learned it in his youth from 
Samuel, the head of the priested monks there, who died in 539; this account was 
supplemented by those of two other old men. Samuel himself had it from the mouths of 
veterans who had seen the first foundation about the turn of the fourth century. 13 

John 'the Urjian', so called because of his fluency in the language of the Urtians of 

* Wallacc-Hadrill. Christian Antioch (1982); H. Bacht. in Grillmeier/Bacht. Das Konzit von Chalkedon 11 
U953). pp. 193-3M. 

8 G.C. Hansen, introduction lo Sozomen, pp. lxv-btvi. 

* Sozomen ui, 14.30 (p. 123 lines 5-8), understanding the preposition hypo in the sense or administrative 
subordination; on Amida, see especially Karalevsky in DHGE it, col. 1 237-49. 

7 A. de Hallcux (and J.C. Sanders) in Mus 96 (1983), p. 8 n. 17; cf. Ch. 1. n. 49. An inscription at the 
monastery of Mor A wgin. dated 1 209/ 1 0. names an 'architect Joseph from Gawgfat)* (Abr- Bahrain 19(1 980- 
1 ), p. 2). Sachau. Rtist (1883). p. 387, heard the name Baghok' (i.e. 'Beth Gawgal), but did not believe it was 

* Hansen is unable to name a likely source for this passage, but it is clear that Sozomen had many 
informants among the monks of Palestine (Introduction to Sozomen. pp. xliv-lxvii). There was considerable 
mobility and exchange between the monastic communities of Mesopotamia and Palestine; the latter were 
likely to be well-informed, as all pilgrims came to their country. 

8 loc. «';.: hOn istln Daniel kai Symedn. 

10 The identification is made by Barsawm, KBB, p. 634 and confirmed by the topography given in L. 
Daniel (passim) and L. Theodotos, fol. 66b. I -3: between Qeleth and Beth Made (a place near the southern 
slopes of Ayshumo). near a castle built of great hewn blocks on the summit of Ml Aghlosh. north of 
Rishayno; the monastery (Der Matina. Der Rabat. Kara Kilise) and the castle (Rabbat Kalcsi) were visited 
by J .G. Taylor, in JGS 38 ( 1 868), pp. 360- 1 and studied by Wiessncr, Ruinenstdtten. neither of whom appear 
to have been aware of their identity. " L. Daniel, fol. ioia.3-b.i; summary p. 62 (paraphrased). 

lt LL. Eastern Satnts, p. [558J. 

11 LL. Eastern Saints, pp. [553]. (563-4). (565-6] and the whole ofCh. 58. 

Community and individual 75 

Anzitene, 1 * was not the first recluse to shut himself up on the site of the future abbey. 
He built his hut near a group of hermitages called after Mor Afursam. His remarkable 
sanctity attracted two distinguished monks from the nearby monastery of the 
Edcsscnes, both of them first-rate scribes whose books were still preserved in their 
abbey in the lifetime of John of Ephesus. Their names were Samuel and Jonathan. 
Together they built up a community of about fifty men, with sizeable buildings and 
possessions; but Jonathan, for some reason, distanced himself from the others and only 
returned after the death of the Founder, who had designated Samuel as his successor. 
Samuel in turn gave the headship to Jonathan at his death. 

This procedure should be compared with what happened at the death of Samuel of 
Eshtin. He entrusted the government of his monastery to his disciple and co-founder 
Simeon (xxxn.5-6). The hagiographer found it natural that this decision should not be 
questioned by the community. In the same way Daniel of Aghlosh in 439 bequeathed 
the headship of his monastery to Lazarus' 5 and Dodho designated his disciple Habibto 
succeed him in the early sixth century.' 6 A little later, Aho entrusted to his disciple 
Heworo the direction of his 'upper and lower monasteries*. ' T The principle seems to be 
that the first disciples are the rightful successors to monastic founders. When two 
disciples, like Samuel and Jonathan at Amida, joined the master together at the outset, 
it is made clear that, although one of them succeeds him officially, they really continue 
on an equal footing. 1 8 The principle of abbatial designation, however, might not seem 
so indisputable if it was applied beyond this point, the founder's disciple and successor 
designating in turn a disciple of his own to follow him; for there would very likely be 
monks of the first generation senior to that disciple, or with some other claim to 

Both these points arc borne out by the Life of John bar Aphtonia. When the 
monastery of St Thomas near Seleucia-on-the-Orontes lost its abbot to the 
Chalcedonians at the beginning of the sixth-century persecutions, the monks, old and 
young, were unanimous in choosing the gifted John as their head, overriding his 
protestation that 'headship belongs to the seniors'. 19 Later, when the community was 
driven into exile, John resettled them at Qenneshre, on the Euphrates opposite 
Jerablus. 20 This was his foundation and it bore his name, so it is no surprise to find him 
designating as his successor 'Alexander, an old man, well-respected and of high repute' 
and enjoining him to enforce the same Rule by which John had lived and governed. 2 ' 
The early fifth-century 'Rule of Rabbula for the Good Order of the Monks' seems to 
envisage a committee, formed of 'those who have emerged as priests and deacons from 
the monasteries [i.e. from monastic seminaries?] and who have had entrusted to them 
churches in the villages', meeting to select abbots for 'their monasteries' on the criteria 
of proven worth and ability to lead the community. The electors themselves are 
disqualified from this office: 'they shall continue to officiate in their churches'.* 1 We 
cannot tell whether this rule also applied in the diocese of Amida at that date, but by the 
end of the century it certainly did not. 

14 Possibly a descendant of Urarjian; the kingdom of Urartu had stretched at this point as far as the 
Euphrates. " L. Daniel, fol. iotb.2. '* LL. Eastern Saints, p. [7J. ,T L. Aho, fol. 185a. 
li LL. Eastern Saints, p. {$$6]. '• L. John bar Aphonia, section 6. 
" L. John bar Aphtonia. section 8. il L. John bar Aphtonia, section 9. 

" Can. W-Syr., 1, p. 158. no. 21. 


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78 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

(Matthew, according to the Life of Samuel, was a recluse and Jacob a seer (xxit.15- 
16))." The Syriac Acts of that other Council of Ephesus, held in 449, show that a monk 
called Jacob was present from one of the eastern monasteries at the behest of the 
emperors to give evidence against Ibas; i4 it is possible that the Jacob in our lists was 
identified with him and that a mistake was made about the date of the council (the same 
year is given in Chr. Edessa 540). 

We do not really know enough about local conditions to give firm dates at which the 
various martyrs are likely to have died (most at the hands of the Persians), nor to say 
after which date large-scale conflict with and conversion of pagans and Jews in the 
region becomes unlikely. But probably Stephen, who converted pagans 'on the plain*, 
and Maron, who baptized 2.000 people in the city of Gozarto d-Shu : o (xxn.5-6), 
belong to the early fifth century; this is confirmed by the appearance of a Stephen and a 
Maron among the foremost disciples of Simeon (XL.7-8), the second abbot of Qartmin 
(d. 433). Likewise. John of Kallinikos, who doused a Magian sacred flame, Severus, 
who replaced a cultic tree with a church, and Athanasius, who baptized all the Jews in 
his neighbourhood (xxm.7-9, i3-'5)> should be dated at the latest before the Arab 
conquest (639-40). 3i 

Section 7 of the Life of Simeon deserves to be taken seriously. It describes an 
epidemic that raged in Tur Abdin between 14 September and 20 October, causing 
about 5,000 deaths (XL.3-16). The fact that such an outbreak is likely in a waterless 
region at the end of the dry season did not occur to the writer, so there is no reason why 
these plausible dates should have been invented. Simeon took ten monks with him and 
processed around the villages, praying for an end to the plague. The monks* names were 
Cyrus, Abraham, John, Stephen, Maron, Abay, Zuto, Daniel, George and x Ammi. All 
these names appear in the list in the Life of Samuel, eight of them within the first fifteen 
places. In the Calendar of fur 'Abdin we find abbots of Qartmin with the names Cyrus 
(I and II), Stephen, Maron of 'Aynwardo and Abay of Hah, and one bishop of Tur 
Abdtn (also a native of Hah) called Ammi." This last, whose identification with the 
disciple of Simeon is made the more certain by the rarity of his name, 17 would thus have 
lived in the fifth century. He is the earliest bishop of Tur Abdin of whom we know 18 and 
his title in the Calendar must be counted among the earliest witnesses to the name 'Tur 
Abdin'. 3, » 'Ammi and George are both named as martyrs in the Life of Samuel (xxitt.6; 

" Bui sec p. 105. J * Acts Ephesus 449, p. 46. 

" Thi! * A . ,hanasius 's named as 'Sandloyo' in the Istanbul MS, which alone preserves the text at this point 
mis is certainly an interpolation, the motive of which was to confer sanctity by association with these holy 
men on the controversial person of the eighth-century patriarch. Athanasius Sandloyo. a monk of Qartmin 
(see Ch. 5. section 4). »• Cat. TA. 14 Dec., 19 Mar., 20 Jun.. iS Nov.. 30 Sept. 

Probably it was adopted at monastic profession, since it is a learned allusion to the prophecy of Hosea, 
Ch. 1 Ammi = my people', lo Ammi =• 'not my people*. The 'eastern quarter' of Hah was named for Ammi, 
according to the Calendar {here mistranslated by Peelers). 

*• Pace E Honigmann. in Traditio 5 (1947), p. 155, who thinks the bishopric of Tur Abdin 'obviously' 
Post-dated the elevation of Dara as a metropolitan see. 

» L. Jacob might also be cited (as it is by M. Streck in El iv (1934). p. 944). for fur Abdin is named in the 
oldest section of it, the record of Constantius' fortifications on the Tigris frontier (cf. Ch. 2, n. 42); this Life 
attests a Bishop Benjamin of Hesno d-Kifo. who visited Jacob at Salab. from which one might be templed to 
conclude that there was not yet a bishop of Tur 'Abdin. But it seems that Salah belonged at that date to the 
'province' of Hesno d-Kifo, that of Tur Abdin being perhaps based on an axis between Hah and the casilc of 
Tur Abdin. The construction of that castle remains ihe most likely occasion for the institution of such a 
bishopric before Anastasius. 


Simeon (d. 433) 


Cyrus I 










Severus (c.534?) 


John (c.572) 


Cyrus II 





Community and individual 79 

xxir. 18-19) an d 'i the Calendar. The name Daniel belonged to one of the early stylites 
(not to be confused with the famous Chalcedonian pillar-saint) and appears as such in 
the Book of Life and in the Calendar.* If this Daniel is to be identified with the 
contemporary of Simeon of Qartmin, we have to assume he mounted his pillar towards 
thcend of his life. But there is no reason to doubt that we have here the names often holy 
men of Tur c Abdin in the middle of the fifth century. 

Combining this list with the Calendar and with the Church History of John of 
Ephesus, which mentions an abbot of Qartmin called John, who later became a bishop 
and died in 578, 41 we can construct a list of fifth- and sixth-century abbots of Qartmin: 

1 Samuel (d. c.410) 

(in any order between 434 and c.500) 

(in any order between c.500 and c.6oo, taking note 
- of the probable dates of the abbacies of Severus* 2 
and of John) 

(became a bishop in 614/15 and died in 633/4) 

The series of abbots of the monastery of John the Urtian is given in the well- 
authenticated oral history set down in 566 by John of Ephesus. Between the first arrival 
of the founder 'about the year 700' ( = 388/9) and the time of writing, when Sergius II 
was abbot, there are thirteen names; but the first three were approximate coevals, and 
there was one resignation, in addition to the loss of an abbot to the episcopacy, which is 
paralleled in the Qartmin list by John. These circumstances explain the proportionately 
greater number of abbots. Normally an average reign might well have been nineteen 
years. Here, for comparison, is the list of abbots of the monastery of Mor John at 

(arrived c.389) 

(probably did not live much longer than 

the founder) 


(became bishop of Beth Urjoye) 

(alive during the Persian siege of 502/3) 

(survived the death of Anastasius in 518) 

(relics returned from Claudia to Amida in 548?) 

(alive in 567) 

*' Chr John Eph. 585. iv.33. 42 WSCR. A.I. 




Samuel ) 


Jonathan j 




Abraham I 


Abraham II 


Abraham III 




Sergius I 






Abraham IV 


Sergius II 


n. 30; Cat. TA. 11 Dec. 




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82 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

abbot had a 'household* of lay-brothers, who, though not themselves monks, might be 
involved in every aspect of the common life.* 3 They had certain duties to perform after 
the night service and after the midday service; at other times they were probably in 
attendance on the abbot. The rest of the community was divided into elders, priests and 
brothers; among the elders (some of whom were no doubt also priests) the senior men 
had considerable personal authority, which they could seek to impose when the careful 
balance of community life was under threat. 4 * There may also have been a monk with 
the office of 'Visitor' or 'Executive', who was responsible for certain affairs of the 
community outside the enclosure.' 

Four common services united the monks in the oratory at midnight, morning, noon 
and evening; probably the seven prescribed 'times' of prayer were all included, the third 
hour following without a break on morning prayers, the ninth on noon, and compline 
on evening prayers. 5 * The communi ty was called to prayer by a gong. Evening prayers 
were followed by a meal; there may have been a breakfast, too, on some days, after 
morning prayers. Meals were cooked and served by the shabthoye ('weekers'), the batch 
of monks on duty in any single week. (When the Amidene convents shared common 
quarters in exile a total of monks were divided into twenty batches of fifty, so 
each monk had two or three duty-weeks a year. 5 2 ) Under the general supervision of the 
steward (or stewards) the kitchen work was regulated by the rishay shabe, who were 
probably the heads of the respective duty-batches. In the refectory a high table was 
reserved for the abbot and the elders; guests of the community were invited to sit there 
also. Each of the other tables was supervised by its 'table head*, who normally said grace 
at the beginning of the meal. (John seems to imply that the majority of the tables in his 
monastery abutted the walls of the refectory on either side, but that there was a table in 
the centre aisle for the juniors.) Wine and water were sent round the tables when the 
abbot gave the order during the evening meal on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and 
Saturdays. After the meal everyone stood and sang grace together; then the monks went 
to their respective cells and dormitories and lay down until the gong for night prayers, 
except for the duty-monks, who had to work late into the night. 

An hour or at most two hours of rest followed night prayers; thereafter until the 
morning service the monks were engaged in specifically religious activities. There was 
considerable latitude in the execution of these. Some learned psalms or practised 
mortification alone in their cells; others would group themselves around their chosen 
'master' and repair to the refectory, the oratory or elsewhere to study the Scriptures and 
to learn the perfect life together; others again had jobs (eshkoryotho) to do in the 
oratory." Between the morning and noon services the community scattered to a 
number of chambers, where they either read improving literature (the Bible, the 
Fathers, saints' Lives) or else performed their allotted manual tasks. In the afternoon 

*! f f Eauem Sablts - PP- t36'l. [3<>3l. [364). with Brooks' note 3, p. [361]. 

^ LL. Eastern Saints, p. (212). »« c f. LL. Eastern Saints, p. [450). 

LL Eastern Saints, index, p. [624) sub voce -Hours-; Brooks thinks that only three office were said in the 
oratory (p [408] n.2). " LL. Eastern Saints, p. (416); Brooks (note 1) has a different calculation. 
• « VT." ^ s " r ^ S ? ints ' P- l 3 54j with n. 1 . For this meaning of eshkoryotho, see Awdo, Lex. p. 5 1 . sub voce 
eshkira .Can. W-Syr.. n. p. 221, no. 9 has shkorotho (vocalization uncertain), which may be the same as 
eshkoryotho, wtth a related meaning. 

Community and individual 83 

the guests and some of the monks were free to rest again, but the 'abbot's household' 
was still active during the siesta. 

We gain little information from John about the celebration of the Eucharist. In the 
makeshift quarters of their exile in Constantinople some monks had altars in their 
separate cells and the mysteries were frequently celebrated; but the reference is to 
private celebrations by priested monks. We are left to guess that the communal 
celebrations may have taken place after the noonday service on certain days of the 
week; there would be no breakfast before the Eucharist. 54 

Nor does John explain where the monasteries got their income. Tithes and vows were 
certainly a regular source, though there is no evidence that the tithes were ever 
compulsory. Probably objects were made and sold; not only common sense, but also the 
example of the Desert Fathers of Egypt, suggest as much. That the monasteries owned 
land and forests can be inferred from two instances: the endowment by imperial decree 
of the village of Nardo in Ingilene, the territory of which was rich in timber, was shared 
in the latter part of the fifth century by the two Amidene monasteries of John the Urtian 
and ofZuqnin;" and in John'sown time thecombinedAmidenecommunities provided 
corn from the fertile fields of Hazim for drought-stricken purchasers from surrounding 
regions.** The sixth-century persecutions may well have involved the confiscation of 
some lands. But the monasteries were still well enough provided to support a number of 
poor and sick people who camped at the gates. 

Guests were welcome within the abbey walls, though women might not enter male 
communities, nor men enter nunneries. (Of the latter John tells us very little, beyond 
signalling the existence of nunneries in the territories of Mabbugh and Beth Urjoyejby 
contrast he has a good deal to say about individual female religious. 57 ) It is implied that 
guests were normally travellers from another region. More often than not they were 
themselves adepts of the religious life. During those years of doctrinal controversy, 
strangers were questioned as to their theological standpoint before they were allowed to 
stay.' 8 There was no limit set to the period of their sojourn.* 9 Seated on high table at 
meals, they were in every way accorded the respect due to priests, to the abbot, even to 
Christ himself. They might sleep in the oratory, or, if they chose, in another building. 
Though normally associated with the rhythm of the community's life, they were free to 
rest or to wander in the gardens during the day. The abbot himself was concerned for 
the well-being of the guest. 60 There were always monks ready to wash his hands after a 
meal, to spread a rug, to give him a change of clothes while they washed and mended his 
own. But neither in John of Ephesus nor in any other source have I found a reference to 
an official guestmaster. 

To be admitted to the community itself was to put oneself under obedience and to 
enter a course of monastic discipline and training (tulmodho). Some monasteries known 

** Foreucharistic ethics in John's time, see the canons of John of Telia, Can. lV-Syr.,i.pp. 145-56^. Nau, 
pp. 20-30); the Rule written by John of Telia for the monastery of Mor Zakay of Kallinikos refers 10 the 
communal monastic Eucharist ( = Can. Mor Zakay). 

" LL. Eastern Saints, p. {212]. " LL, Eastern Saints, p. [614J. 

" LL. Eastern Saints, Nos. 1 2, 27, 28. 55; see S.P. Brock and S. Ashbrook Harvey ,' Holy Women of the 
Syrian Orient (Berkeley, California. 1987). '• LL. Eastern Saints, p. [361]. 

" LL. Eastern Saints, pp. [250]. (366); Vdobus. Einiges uber die karitative Tdtigkeit ( 1 947). p. 1 1 , doubts 
this. a * LL. Eastern Saints, p. (364). 

'.*£- y^KjrEiriS-' 

84 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

to John would receive a man who was a runaway slave or criminal, or one at variance 
with his wife or with the law, and admit him to the full status of a monk without due 
precautions. But John particularly admired the system operating in one of the great 
Amidene convents of his time. He described it in detail. 111 

After being thoroughly interrogated as to his background and his motives and the 
history of his resolve, he is made to stand with the poor at the gate for thirty days. Then, 
if he still wishes, he may enter the enclosure, thus 'burying himself alive' and relinquish- 
ing every claim to worldly property. Three months* regular attendance at the office and 
assiduous execution of kitchen duty and the menial tasks of cleaning the latrines and so 
on qualifies him for the status of 'penitent', a grade also accorded to certain laymen 
outside the monasteries and marked by a round tonsure of the crown of the head." 
After a further three months he brings forward referees to recommend him and applies 
for the robe and the finger-ring of monastic obedience.* 3 If he is successful, half of his 
head is shorn, the rest being shaved at the end of a year (from the time of his first tonsure 
as a penitent? 6 *). He is clothed in a tunic and hood made of straw* J with a string for a 
belt. Three years after his first tonsure he receives, in a solemn ceremony in front of the 
sanctuary, the full apparel ofa monk (tunic, cowl, m'aiyono or cloak, galo or outer coat, 
and girdle") and after this there can be no turning back. (A monk might leave his 
community with the consent of the abbot but if he went back to the world and took a 
wife, this was counted as adultery or worse." 7 ) 

The authority of an abbot over his monks was absolute in spiritual terms, though, as 
we shall see, it was by no means totalitarian in its effect. A monk who left his community 
without his abbot's consent incurred the intolerable burden of 'the living Word of God' 
(Hebrews 4:120," the effect of which was inescapably interior; there was no legal 
penalty, but the man's soul was believed to be held by a quasi-magical binding-spell, 
from which only his abbot could release him. It was possible in a case of necessity for 
another to take it upon himself by the grace of intercession and so to secure by proxy the 
abbot's liberating consent. 

John tells of onecase" where a monk recently admitted to a new community, having 

*j LL e Eas,ern Sa "" J - PP [278-83I. »* LL. Eastern Saints, p. (t2ij. 
, ,», AS I' ' r u° W ! h ," " ll V COaiy refcrcnce ,0 « he ™8 of monastic obedience, though frequently monastic 
authors speak of thar We asa betrothal toChrist; the giving ofa ring was of old a symbol ofbetrothal among 
the Syrians (Can. W~Syr., it, pp. 13, 42, 56, 60}, as with us. 

** This is Brooks' suggestion. LL. Eastern Saints, p. (282) n. 3. 

• * cf. L. Daniel, fol. 99b. t : a tunic of plaited straw*. I have not found any more detailed description of such 
a garment which would show how it was made. 

ro"f,*Jli« T °/ i? c J orrtsp ° nds t0 what m ™** in the eastern Mediterranean area were wearing 

r™^ g i m SP ***": ' 2 ~ l 3) tha ' ,hc Syrian * wore Mm!ah < cf mSCR A ») The m'alyono and the gab 
correspond approximately .0 the pallium and the mehte. The Syrians do not seem to have had the analabos 
I^rf c ^\PP 57-9); the staff (ibid., pp. 97-9) and the hair-shirt or iron vest (ibid., pp. 87-94) are 
2.^2 ? dvanccd ascctl 1 cs < s ~ PP" 8 5"88 below), who seem to have worn a long-sleeved tunic, as opposed 


Syrian Orthodox monk s clothes m the thirteenth century as: tunic, belt. cowl. gala, sandals, cross 

». .. n V 3; Syr ' "' pp - 4 <No M). ' t-12 (No. 21), 37 (No. 3). 

*• LL. Eastern Saints, p. (262). J 

"* LL. Eastern Saints. No. 18; this is the origin of section 20 of the Life of Gabriel {LXXXW.s-ixxxv\ 1). 
hence the inconsistency at lxxxiv.i 1-13. ' 

Community and individual 85 

claimed that his previous abbot had set him free, was found in mortal agony. The 
customary prayers ofa group of monks with the Gospel Book and a thurible failed to 
secure the release of his soul either to life or to death; even when the relics and the 
Eucharistic Offering 70 were brought to his bedside in the presence of 120 praying 
monks, his condition remained unchanged. The 'head of the elders' (was this another 
olfice in the hierarchy?), perceiving that the soul must be held by the 'word of inhibition* 
of the monk's previous abbot, appealed for a voluntary substitute. A monk called 
Addai came forward and by general intercession the 'inhibition' was mysteriously 
transferred and the sick monk died. Addai then journeyed directly to the latter's 
previous monastery to secure his own release. 

The unfortunate at the centre of this drama was distinguished, as John (an eyewit- 
ness) tells us, 'by the appearance ofa mourner'. The word evokes the third beatitude: 
'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'. In a sense, all monks were 
mourners, 7 ' but the Syriac word (avilo) clearly has a technical, restrictive sense as well. 
Traditionally, it has been rendered as 'anchorite', but it is hard to see how a monk living 
under obedience to an abbot in a monastery can be called an anchorite. 72 Barsawmo of 
the Northern Mountain, who was accorded the epithet 'chief of the mourners', vowed 
himself to an extreme state of abnegation in the pattern of the biblical Nazirites, 
enduring voluntarily scorching heat and freezing cold, a hair shirt and iron chains, a 
diet of roots and berries and a perpetual upright posture. 73 John of Ephesus writes 
about two 'Nazirites', John and Abay, who lived in monastic communities. 7 * Both were 
conspicuous for their perpetual weeping and in other respects also conformed to the 
model of the 'chief of the mourners', though John does not actually call them mourners. 
John the perfect Nazirite had worn a bald patch on his forehead from making 
obeisances and went out of his way to kneel on scalding sand in the noonday sun: 
Barsawmo wore an iron shirt and stood in the sun until it burned his body; he wept 
copiously and spent all day in painful obeisance. 7 ' 

In describing Sergius the recluse and his master Simeon - though these men were not 
in a community -John confirms the equation between 'Nazirite' and 'mourner'. 76 The 
Chalcedonian mob in Amida 'shaved off the hair of naziritehood' from Sergius' head, 
'for both he and his master were in the honoured skhema of mournership (avilutho)\ It is 
clear from this that uncut hair was part of the distinguishing appearance ofa 'mourner', 
as of John the Baptist and the Old Testament Nazirites. The word skhema in its Syriac 
usage includes the way the hair was worn or cut; it also refers to the habit. John tells us 
that Abay the Nazirite owned one tunic and a patchwork cape. Illustrations of 
Barsawmo and of Matthew of Nineveh in two manuscripts which were executed 
respectively in 1055 at Melitene and in 1 203 at Edessa show these archetypal 'mourners' 

t0 Literally: 'the Lord of the World*; cf. p. [262I n. 2. Icons are conspicuous by their absence. 

" cf. Can. W~Syr.. I, p. 151 (No. ll)[Nau. p. 25 (no. ti)]. 

T1 cf. van Helmond. Mas oud du Tour 'Abdin ( 1942). p. 7 n.i6. with correct emphasis. 

T * Voobus, Asceticism, ll, p. 206 notes 56, 57; L. Barsawmo, foil. 720-743; summary, pp. 274-76. Each 
abnegation is termed a 'distinction', purskono (not 'evenement', pace Nau, summary, p. 273 n. 4). which 
invites comparison with the mire d-purshono of Can. Mot Zakay. 

74 LL. Eastern Saints. Nos. 3. 14. 

M LL. Eastern Saints, p. (40J; L. Barsawmo. loc. cit. (n. 73). T * LL. Eastern Saints, p. [104). 

86 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

in clothing distinct from that of other Syrian Orthodox monks. 77 There is no reason 
{pace Leroy) to believe that either of these images derives from Egypt. 79 

In the earlier portrait. Barsawmo wears a light-brown, full-length tunic fitting the 
wrists with cuffs and covering the feet with a hem. This is girded with a black rope, the 
ends of which are tied in the middle and hang down vertically, joined by three symbolic 
knots, before being looped up at either side and lucked into the girdle above the hips. A 
cowl of dark brown material decorated with bands of white embroidery seems to be 
formed by sewing together the top corners of a long rectangular 'panel' to form a crest 
along the axis of the head; a slit in the 'panel' allows it to be passed over the head and the 
other end hangs down the front of the saint covering the girdle, but finishing short of t he 
three knots. A loose cape in a dark brown material covers the shoulders and is clasped 
over the long beard. In the portrait of Matthew the crumpled sleeves of the tunic have 
no cuffs at the wrist; the girdle is of a light colour and passes over the 'front panel', the 
three knots and looped ends are absent; the 'panel' itseff is longer, and the material of 
cowl and 'panel', which is likewise of a piece, is unpatterned. In addition, the saint holds 
a staffin his left hand like an elongated row-cross, with a sharp end like an arrow-head. 
(John writes of two 'mourners* who saw a site on which to found a monastery, and 
'planted their cross there', which explains the sharpness of the end. 79 ) 

From other illustrated manuscripts we gain an impression of the normal monastic 
habit. 80 The cowl may have been made differently, but most conspicuous is the all- 
enveloping outer garment, like a large blanket draped over the shoulders and covering 
the arms as far as the wrists, which comes down to the calves or even the ankles at the 
back. This is the galo or 'blanket', so called because it was in fact used at night for 
bedding. Underneath, presumably, is the malyono, another cloak, and under that the 
tunic, which can be seen from the knees down. Whether there was a 'front panel' 
attached to the cowl cannot be seen; probably there was not and this was a prerogative 
of 'mourners*. (It may be related to the embroidered panel of the 'great skhema' worn by 
certain Greek Orthodox monks.) The distinctive shoulder-cape of the 'mourners' is 
presumably the cape (kvinto) possessed by Abay. 

Thus it appears that the 'mourners' were distinguished from the other monks both 
by their dress and by their hair. Their activities were those of advanced athletes in the 
ascetical arena. Probably they entered this stage after a prolonged period of normal 
monastic discipline. 8 ' Having 'graduated' they may either have left the community to 
embrace the rootless life of xeniteia" or else have become quasi-hermits inside or 
outside their monastic enclosure. But however distinct this group may have been, John 
of Ephesus and his elder contemporary, John of Telia, give the impression that the 

" Leroy. Manuscrits. pis. 52.2 and 60.2 (Leroy has slightly miscalculated the date of the earlier MS, which 
is now numbered 12/8 in the Syrian Orthodox patriarchate at Damascus); in the later MS the name of 
Matthew has been written over an erasure and it looks as if the original name was Barsawmo {ibid., p. 259, 
where the 'panel* described below is called a scapular). '* Leroy. Manuscrits, pp. 260-1. 

'* LL. Eastern Saints, p. [299J. '« Leroy. Manuscrits, pis. 71.2. 126.4. 

•' Can. WSyr.up. l5«(No. i7)|Nau,p.84<No. 1 7)] (early fifth century); Can. W.Syr.. II. p. 213: the 
tughercailing of the solitary, whether he be a recluse or one who wanders over the hills . . . neither judging nor 
judged, may not be approached unless after subjection for several years to the will of the community' (twelfth 

•*■ SeeA.Guillaumont.^n/iJwire^/'£t^Pra//at^^//tfu/M£/i^j(5thsection)76(i968-9).pp.3-58; 
ct. n. 128 below. 

Community and individual 87 

practices associated with the 'mourners' had wider currency in the monastic 

By night some would stand in rows with the aid of standing-posts; others, without using posts, 
would crucify their bodies against the walls all night long; others used ropes and hanging-rings 
from the vineyard, fixed to the ceiling of the chamber, to suspend themselves all night by the 
armpits in a standing position. 83 

So John speaks of the 'secret labours of the night' for which he elsewhere specifies 
that separate cells existed within the enclosure. 34 John of Telia at his first entrance to 
the monastery of Mor Zakay near Kaltinikos requested a small hut in the enclosure, 
where he devoted himself to scriptural reading, prayer, sleeplessness and tears. He also 
gave up bread and wine and oil and confined himself to boiled pulse and a few 
vegetables. 85 In his Rule, he says that monks should wear hair tunics to show that they 
were in mourning (avtiutho) for the Passion of Christ. 8 * John of Ephesus tells how cells 
were built inside the great triclinia of the palace of Hormisdas in Constantinople out of 
wood, skins and matting; 87 this suggests a way in which separate cells might have been 
created even in a less makeshift monastery. Likewise, John of Telia was imprisoned 'in a 
small hut which was within a certain chamber' of a monastery near Antioch. 39 
Archaeologists should therefore beware of drawing conclusions from the apparent 
absence of such compartments in a ruined abbey, where wood may have disappeared 
without trace. 

Personal choice played a large part in sixth-century monastic life, even within the 
context of a cenobitic community. John of Ephesus again and again used the phrasegvo 
le(ft), 'he chose for himself, of a monk who works out his own vocation; whether by 
carrying a pebble in his mouth to impede his tongue; or by wearing a string with three 
knots biting deep into the skin of his hand to remind him of the need to guard the 
frontier between his soul and invading forces from without; or by cleaning the 
excrement from the latrines; or by collecting the scraps from the scullery and making 
them into a tasty meal for the poor at the gate; or by performing a ministry of exorcism. 
John himself could never have written the Lives of the Eastern Saints if he was bound by 
a vow of stability. Occasionally, such individual initiatives created a disturbance in the 
common life and then it was the senior elders who remonstrated with the individual. 
The abbot himself, though he may have been a spiritual father to some, is a distant 
figure in John's pages. Spiritual guidance is undertaken by other monks whose way of 
life has attracted disciples and, generally, by the Elders. 

Something of the flexibility of an association of like-minded ascetics was still present 
in John's time. Like the founding fathers, who adopted the framework of a common life 
and put themselves under an abbot to attain greater freedom from material concern and 
a degree of mutual support and beneficial competition, 8 * the monks of John's time 
retained considerable autonomy and, as elders, had a quasi-collegiate part in the 

** LL. Eastern Saints, p. (410]. ** LL. Eastern Saints, p. [204). " £. John of Telia, p. 46. 

'* Can. W.Syr.. 1, p, 15 j (No. It) (Nau, p. 25 (No. n)|. ** LL Eastern Saints, p. [476I. 

" L.JohnofTetla.p.ll. 

*» LL. Eastern Saints, p. [405]; cf. lvii. 13 (section t of the Life of Gabriel is closely modelled on John of 
Ephesus): the distinction between good and bad envy goes back to Hesiod. Erga. lines 1 1 f and was probably 
imbibed from one of the popular anthologies by the hcllenizing John of Ephesus. 



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90 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Leaving Claudia under the threat of hostilities between the Byzantines and the 
Arabs, Theodotos skirted the diocese of Amida on the north side and came down via a 
monastery outside Mayperqaj to Tur c Abdin, where he stayed for some time in the 
monastery of Mor Simeon of Qartmin. He and his disciple were given a cell where they 
lived in all simplicity; Theodotos showed great endurance in fasting and standing and 
silence. The elders tried to persuade him to go in with them to the Refectory, but he 
refused. ' °* After leaving Qartmin, he was persuaded by the governor of Dara, through 
whose territory he was travelling, to settle at the monastery of Mor Abay above Qeleth 
under his jurisdiction. 107 Theodotos and his disciple built themselves a little cell by a 
cave which he identified as the original martyrium of Mor Abay, but he came down 
from time to time to worship in the oratory of the monastery. Here again the abbot had 
been lax in questioning those who asked to live there: an old man, who had been there 
for twenty years and had passed as a Christian, confessed to Theodotos that he had 
never been baptized. 108 

Near the end of his life Theodotos returned to the *cave of saints' above Mor Abay 
and, with the permission of his friend, the governor of Dara, he built a monastery there 
and a church in it dedicated to St Mary. 109 In the martyrium he deposited the relics he 
had been collecting all his life, which he carried in a sack. 

Relics were clearly of great importance in the seventh century. l ,0 While on his last 
journey towards Qeleth, Theodotos had nearly died in the monastery of Mor Daniel of 
Aghlosh; the monks were afraid, foreseeing the carnage which would ensue over the 
possession of his corpse. But 'Mor Abgar the Visitor (so'uro) 1 had sent Theodotos to the 
monastery of Mor Abay on a litter carried by four monks, thus putting him beyond 
reach of the Amidencs, for it was from that quarter that trouble was expected. Relics do 
not play an important part in John of Ephesus, who never mentions the ritual 
veneration of the saints of a monastery, a custom treated as normal in the Life of 

Section 14 of the Life of Simeon contains an account of the battle which took place 
between the monks of Qartmin and the people of Qartmin village in the mid-fifth 
century over the possession of Simeon's relics. The Calendar commemorates on 6 
October 'the ten Qartminite monks who are called the Little Brothers and the 483 
martyrs', but it seems the passage is corrupt, because 483 was the number of the skulls 
removed in 443 from the burial vault, according to the Chronicle of 819 (ag 755), an 
event which the Life of Simeon found commemorated on 7 October (uv,4). If the 
original commemoration was of twenty casualties in a battle with Qartmin village (cf. 
Lin.6-7, 1 5-1 6), that would have been sufficient to inspire section 14. The dating of the 
battle might then be a false inference from the fact that the skull count of 443 was 
commemorated on the following day. 

If, in spite of this possible exception, it may stand as a general characterization of the 
seventh century that it saw a particular accentuation of the cult of relics among the 

loa L. Theodotos, foil. 62b. 1-633.3. •<" I. Theodotos, Col. 63b.!. 

l0 » L. Theodotos, foil. 63b.i-2. 66b,3. 10 ' L, Theodotos, foil. 66b.3-67a.2- 

1,0 < ? r C ™: w 'Sy/> '• P- *S <Nos. (37], (38)) [Nau, p. 47 (Nos. 20, 21)): the Host was considered by some 

priests in the time of Jacob of Edessa to cancel the miraculous power or relics; they would not consecrate it 

near relics for fear of rendering them powerless. 

Community and individual 91 

Syrians, this fact may mean that the age of the living holy man was already drawing to 
its close. Even Theodotos considered himself impotent without his bag of bones. His 
imitators were to become a public nuisance in the eighth and ninth centuries: the canons 
repeatedly condemn those who make a living as mobile reliquaries. ' u 

Theodotos took care to provide his new monastery with a 'buried treasure of saints' 
comparable to St Thomas the Apostle's 'presence* at Qenneshre and that of Mor 
Barsawmo at the monastery of that name in Claudia. He acceded to the request that the 
monastery should receive brothers whom their parents had given to God by a vow; but 
it sounds as if this was a concession, since he did it 'in order to get the place under 
cultivation'. 112 

As in the time of John of Ephesus, we encounter 'solitaries, stylites and recluses* 
around Amida and a famous sty lite, Thomas, near Telia. 1 li Theodotos himself and 
Joseph together adopted a life of 'voluntary exile' (akhsnoyutho), which seems to have 
meant moving from monastery to monastery and living in each a life apart, though 
having some contact with the inmates. 114 In his final prayer on his deathbed, 
Theodotos mentioned 'all those who are in a monastery and in the holy order of 
solitaries and mourners' and compared them to Serapion and Julian the Old and Mor 
Barsawmo. It seems that he may be drawing a distinction between 'solitaries and 
mourners', an order apart, and 'those who live in a monastery*. But the Life does not say 
whether the former might also at times have been accommodated in a monastery, unless 
Theodotos and Joseph during their temporary residence in the monastery of Qartmin 
and in a cell above that of Mor Abay count as such. 

5. Evidence from Tur c Abdin 

a. Texts and inscriptions 

Neither John of Ephesus nor the biographer of Theodotos set out to give a complete 
description of monasticism in their time. But together they provide a framework with 
some hints of historical change for a region adjacent to Tur c Abdin. Our next task is to 
try to fit the scattered evidence from our own area into this model. If this generates no 
difficulties, we shall be justified in assuming that the pattern was found here, too. 

We have seen that the genesis of the community at Qartmin was very similar to that 
of John the Urtian at Amida and that, both in the region of that city and in Tur Abdin, 
the spirit of the original group of hermitages somehow survived the inevitable growth of 
the monastery's organizational complexity and its accumulation of functions, educa- 
tional, charitable, disciplinary, economic. The institution did not function like a bee- 
hive, although it had the firm rhythm of a common life. Diversity of vocation was 
recognized and accepted and for the many paths there were many masters, who might 
take personal responsibility for the admission and training of their followers. Not only 
different varieties of approach to the coenobitic life, but even a separate order of quasi- 

1 ' ' The earliest such canon is that of George of the Arabs (d. 724). 
111 L. Theodotos. fol. 67a.!: a(y)kh da-nshayno(h) !-dhuktho. 

1X1 L. Theodotos. foil. 64b. 1 . 67a. 3; cf Chr , Zuqnin 775, p. 1 56; cf. p. 1 65 {Chabot. p. 1 1 ; cf. p. 1 8 J. with false 
date (ao 1021), correct in Chr. Qartmin 819 (d. ag 1010). "* See n. 82. 


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94 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier r: 

stone kneading-trough was made and transported to the abbey (this actually occurred ~ 
in 776/7; cf. INSCR. A.6); here is palpable evidence of centralized food-production. ~ 
Section 1 5 tells of a refectory on a level above the 'temple' (the conventual church) 'Z 
which contained twelve broad tables of white marble (ucxv.3,5); the number is an -^ 
allusion to the Last Supper. The monks used to go straight up after 'the prayer of 
shorutho" and sing an anthem before sitting down to eat. The word shorutho is usually 
found to mean the midday meal; but here it seems to be equated with hshomitho 
(lxxiv.i6), the evening meal. This is explained by the fact that shorutho literally 
connotes a first break in the working day. In John of Ephesus we found no allusion to a 
midday meal; and grace before the evening meal was said at the individual tables. 

The office of rish ahe, 'head of the brothers', does not appear in John of Ephesus. In 
the Life ofTheodotos about the year 665 he is a relatively junior official in the abbey of ~~ 
Qenneshre, where there is also an abbot. 110 This is also attested for Tur Abdin in an 
inscription of the latter half of the eighth century, which lists the officers of the 
Monastery of the Cross as abbot (rishdayro), sacristan (qunkhoyo), head of the brothers 
(rish ahe), and administrator (parnoso), in that order. ' 3 ' At Qartmin Abbey in 784/5 an 
inscription names only the abbot, the administrator and the steward, but this may be 
because it deals with an economic affair, the building of a winepress. * i2 That there was — 
a rish ahe at Qartmin is shown by an inscription which may also belong to the eighth 
century. ' " Section 23 of the Life of Gabriel claims election to this office for Gabriel in 
the year 613, about the time of Bishop Daniel's consecration. 13 * Section 9 (LXvn.9-12) 
seems to equate it with the abbacy: 'the brothers (ahe) received him . , , and gave him a 
cell . . . and afterwards set him over themselves as rish ahe, and they all submitted to his 
command'. lii At the beginning of section to (freely adapted from a source dated 775, 
where the story was told about a bishop of Edessa 1 36 ) Gabriel is called rish utnro, 'head 
of the abbey' (Lxvii.17), and it is implied that this is synonymous with the office of rish 
ahe mentioned in the previous section. But there is no reason to think that these sections 
were written with any knowledge of conditions in Gabriel's time. It is only safe to rely 
on section 23, where Gabriel is not specifically given the office of abbot at all, though, 
like Daniel, he exercised that function together with that of bishop. 137 

An inscription of the early eleventh century 1 38 names Bishop John, whom we know 
to have resided in the abbey; the builders, both monks; and Kulaib, the rish ahe. In this 
case, there can have been no reason to exclude the abbot's name, so either he did not 
exist or rish ahe means 'abbot' here. 13 * There were abbots of Qartmin in the eighth 
century. Athanasiusof Nunib was abbot from 718/19 to 743/4, during which time there 

110 L. Theodotos, foil. 581.3, 586.3-59x1. 663.3. m INSCR. B.q. ,,J INSCR. A.8. 

1,3 Iff SCR. C.5. 

' '* ucxxvin.5-6; cr. p. 1 57. 61 3 was the year of the Persian conquest: it is possible that the Chronicle of 8 19 
has put Daniel's consecration one year too bte and that Gabriel's promotion was somehow linked to this 

1 i * The same equation is made in the Life of Samuel at xxxu.5-6. but the choice of words here may be that 
of a later redactor. ,J * Chr. Zuqnin 775, pp. 160-3 (Chabot, pp. 15-17]. 

,3T Chr. Qartmin «/p. AG 945, 954lbJ. «« INSCR. B.I 2. 

1 3 * The latter it perhaps more probable in view of the equation of the two offices in some passages of the 
Qartmin Trilogy; however. John of Mardin. whose monastic formation was in the Mountain of Edessa. 
understood the term rish ahe in tis old sense in his twelfth-century Rule for the Monastery of Mor Hananyo (see 
n. 149 below). 

Community and individual 


were at least two bishops of Tur Abdin who surely resided at the abbey. 1 * In 757/8 
*Abbas Mor Gabriel, abbot' commemorated his building effort with an inscription; 1 * 1 
but history suggests he enjoyed a nominal episcopal autonomy from the bishop of Tur 
Abdin, who at that time, exceptionally, resided elsewhere. 1 * 2 He was, therefore, 
explicitly, both abbot and resident bishop at Qartmin; for we must understand 'Abbas' 
as a quasi-episcopal title here, unless we are to find fault with the chronicler. It is not 
certain whether, by 784/5, the patriarch George had restored the unity of the diocese of 
Tur 'Abdin with its bishop resident at Qartmin; l * 3 but there is no doubt that there was a 
bishop there at that date and that his presence did not preclude that of an abbot, for the 
"winepress' inscription makes this clear. 1 ** The abbot Denho mentioned there is likely 
to be identical with an abbot of the same name in an undated inscription discovered in 
thecharnel-housc;'** and the same building contains a second abbot's name, Isaiah, of 
uncertain date. 1 ** But all this evidence of abbots together with bishops at Qartmin is 
for a period after the seventh century. It cannot disprove the hypothesis that the bishop 
subsumed the abbacy at that time. Indeed, without doing violence to the other evidence 
about the office of rish ahe, we can hardly avoid this hypothesis, for to do so would be to 
equate Gabriel's election as 'head of the brothers' with his election to the abbacy, when 
other evidence distinguishes these two offices. Besides, it seems unlikely that Gabriel 
can have held the abbacy, with priested monks under him, while he himself was only a 
deacon.'* 7 The Chronicle of 8 19 explicitly states 1 * 8 that he succeeded Daniel 'as bishop 
and as abbot of Qartmin' in 634. 

The best explanation of the term rish ahe is that suggested by the Rule for the 
monastery of Mor Hananyo (the Saffron monastery) by John of Mardin. There he is 
named, with the abbot and the administrators only, as one of those authorized to assign 
duties in the community; at another point the monks are enumerated as 'all the priests 
and the brothers'.'** The term 'brothers', therefore, while it might occasionally be used 
in the broader sense to mean 'monks', also had a narrower connotation of 'unpriested 
monks' and the rish ahe was head of these. This makes good sense of all the evidence, if 
taken together with the hypothesis that, at times, a resident bishop stood in loco abbatis. 

Even the offending section 9 of the Life of Gabriel might, with some difficulty, be 
accommodated. To do so, we should have to take ahe once in the broad sense and 
thereafter in the narrow sense, although the object would thus be metamorphosed 
without being repeated or redefined. But it is not really so difficult, if we allow that the 
writer just puts things rather loosely. Such an interpretation suggests that the author 
had in mind the twofold division of the monks as priests and non-priests when he wrote 
that Gabriel 'entered and was blessed by the blessed ones (tuvone) in the abbey and by 
all the brotherhood' (lxvh.6). Perhaps tuvone here means 'priested or otherwise 
distinguished monks'. In the Life of Theodotos, also of the seventh century, we find the 
same phrase: 'the fuvone of the monastery and the whole brotherhood'. ' I0 But at other 
times in the same text fuvone seems to be a synonym for 'monk', while aho ('brother') 

140 Chr. Qartmin 8/9, AC 1030; see pp. 162. t68. '* l INSCR. A.3. '* l Sec p. 3J. 

141 See pp. 174. 177. '•* INSCR. A.8. lAi INSCR. '•• INSCR. C.7. 
,4T LXXXvm.5-7. >*» Chr. Qartmin 819, aC 9540). 

'** Can. tV-Syr„ ». pp. 222 (No. 10) and 225 (No. 18), cf. XLV111.18-XUX.4. 
,so L. Theodotos fol. 580.2. 

96 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

can be interpreted generally as 'junior monk' and only occasionally has its broader ~ 
sense, as when Theodotos on his death-bed takes leave of *all the brothers of the abbey'. V 
Both at Qenneshre and at Qartmin the Life of Theodotos attests a distinct group of r 
'Elders', associated in dignity and in authority with the abbot. At one point 151 'the ^ 
brothers of the abbey' (of Qenneshre) are distinguished sharply from the 'Elders', so 
perhaps the latter group included all the priests. 

The office of sacristan {qunkhoyo) - literally (the monk) attached to the konkhe or 
'apse' of the sanctuary - which is attested by the eighth-century inscription at the 
Monastery of the Cross, is not mentioned in John of Ephesus. If we may 'take a back- 
bearing' on the twelfth-century rule of the abbey of Mor Hananyo, it was one of his 
duties to allot liturgical 'parts' in the services to the various priests: "The sacristan shall 
give instructions to the priests about sedhre and the Eucharist, and prayers and 
readings, and homilies; and he shall remind them of their duty in the morning early'. 1 " 
It was also his duty to sound the gong {noqusho) for prayers. 1 " We read in Brooks' 
translation of John of Ephesus of a 'bellman', 1 s * but the Syriac word is noqusho, which 
means 'gong* (not a round gong, as in the Far East, but more likely a simple plate of 
metal, the nearest equivalent today is the simantron of the Greek monasteries, which 
can also be a resonant beam of wood 15 J ). Brooks was misled by the intransitive use of 
the verb nqash, meaning 'it rang out', not 'he sounded (it)*. In fact the office of sacristan 
probably existed in John of Ephesus* time, for the Life ofAho, which is set in the sixth 
century, registers one in Tur Abdin itself. I quote the passage in full: 

As for the first monastery, that of Bnoyel, it was as splendid as ever, until the fifth year after the 
death of the holy man. Then it happened by God's command on the eighteenth of April that a 
great gale accompanied by a cloud of heavy hail-stones smote that monastery and all the region. 
Everything was crushed and blighted - trees, vineyards, crops - and all the produce of that region 
was lost. So violent was the hail - like hard rocks - that many domestic animals and even men 
were killed. The subsequent floods swept away and ruined many a village. The hail returned again 
and again every year, ruining the region and destroying everything in those monasteries. The 
villages became deserted, and even the monks or the monasteries fled and were scattered, until the 
only ones left there were the blessed rjeworo and ten of his companions, who were his fellow- 
villagers. Then the blessed ones decided to go do wn to the lower monastery; and they all arose and 
went down; and no-one remained in the upper monastery except the blessed Abraham, the 
sacristan. He would not consent to descend with them, but remained there on his own; and he 
would sit and compose lamentations over the monastery as did the prophet Jeremiah over 
Jerusalem. The region became desolate from the lack of people coming and going and was filled 
with every kind of wild animal.' 5 * 

It is possible that these events should be connected with the natural disasters which 
occurred in the region of Nisibis in 560. In any case, they help to explain why Tur Abdin 
left so little impression on the history of the sixth century. 

John of Ephesus knew monastic stewards (rabay bote, sing, rabbayto), and this office 
is attested at Qartmin in 784/5 along with that of 'administrator* (parnoso), which is also 

Community and individual 


' * l L. Theodotos, fol. 66b.l. ' » Can. W-Syr.. 11. p. 220 {No. 6). 
' " S™*'^!' 11 ' P- 2I 9 ( No - 3)- "* LL. Eastern Saints, p. (254J. 

' * ' R. Stichel. CA 2t ( J971), pp. 2 1 3-38; the wooden plank-gong on Ml Athos is called talantvn. kopanos 
or haghion xyion. "* L. Aho. foil. 1906-1913; cf. Voobus. Aha. p. 1 1 n.9. 

found at the Monastery of the Cross about the same time. How exactly their duties were 
divided is uncertain. The implication of the inscription at the Monastery of the Cross is 
that there was no steward there, so presumably his duties were performed by the 
administrator. ! " This may have been a transitional period, for after the eighth century 
there is no more evidence of stewards in Tur Abdin, whereas the administrators are very 
prominent in the twelth-century Rule of the Saffron Monastery. There are to be two or 
three of them, elected as helpers to the abbot, but also as checks on his authority, for he 
may not do anything without consulting them, and they, unlike other monks, are 
exhorted to use their judgement in obeying his commands. Their specific duties include 
accounting for income and expenditure by keeping two books on a monthly basis. They 
also have to keep up a register of all the possessions of the community and of its 
church. 158 

b. Archaeology 

In the abbey of Qartmin there are at least two cells which were clearly designed for 
recluses living within the walls of the monastery. One, situated behind the sanctuary of 
the church of the Mother of God, has already been described. 1 59 The other is on the 
north side of the conventual church (figs. 29 and 30). The description of this church in 
section 2 of the Life of Gabriel shows that the hermit's cell was not an original part of its 
design and this is confirmed by the masonry: most of the cell is built in inferior 
stonework; the two arches incorporated in the north wall (at F and west of F) 
apparently belonged to an original portico on this side (cf. LXi.3-4); the fine masonry of 
the east wall (L) was intended to appear to be an organic continuation of the east wall of 
the tripartite sanctuary (cf. LX.2), but the division between the two is clearly visible (fig. 
31); the passage through the north wall of the older building (A), which gives access to 
the cell complex, is improvised, not designed, and allows the joining-point of the two 
structures to be examined (M). 

Entering the extension through this passage we find a small, vaulted sanctuary 
containing an altar (B), formed of two monoliths, with a step in front of it on the west 
side. A low bench in masonry is built against the north wall and, above it, high up under 
the vault, an opening leads into a tunnel (C) which runs several metres towards the west, 
in the thickness of the wall. This tunnel is now blocked up, but it originally connected 
with the upper part of the western half of the complex, for a reason which shall appear. 
There was once a small window in the east wall of the chapel, but it has been closed with 
masonry. 160 Opposite the altar in the west wall, an arched recess contains a doorway, 
which has been almost blocked up, leaving a tunnel (D) barely large enough to squeeze 

The chamber which is thus entered is featureless, except for a low platform in the 

" * LL. Eastern Saints, pp. (392), l395~4 ' 3fc MSCRR. AS, B.9. The disappearance of the term souro and 
the appearance of parnoso suggest that the latter replaced the former, the meaning of which may be similar (cf. 
n. ] 1 7 above). Parnoso is found as early as 509 in Br. Lib. Add. MS 1 4,542, fol. 94a; see Wright, MSS London, 
pi. IV. »»» Can. W-Syr., 11, pp. 217-18 (No. 2), 222 (No. 10). '" Ch. I. section 4, g- 

140 Small areas of hatched plaster in this chapel have been thought to have held a mosaic (Hawkins/ 
Mundell. 'Mosaics', p. 283), but they may simply be the intermediate rendering for the smooth lime plaster 
which covers the rest of the walls; in any case this chapel is not contemporary with the conventual church. 

9 8 

Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 



«Jl« -M of 





I |«ep 



EURftcl from upper cell 
fl cpem n lop of *ill 


entered from 

tt»»e :hro'j(. L i 


lower K — 

opening Jl 



Fig. 29. Plan of the 'Cell of Gabriel', ground floor Fig. 30, Plan of the 'Cell of Gabriel", upper floor 

south-west corner (E), thought by some (though not by the monks today) to be a 
tomb. 161 Under the higher of the two arches in the north wall a roughly excavated 
'chimney* (F) leads to the upper room; the walls of this 'chimney' and the underside of 
the arch are worn smooth by the passage of human bodies. 

The upper room has a masonry bench along the east wall. In the centre of this wall, 
above the bench, is an alcove (G) 88 cm deep and as high as a man; it is 29.5 cm wide at 
the bottom and 22 cm wide at head-level. Like a similar niche in the ruins to the east of 
the conventual church, this alcove was certainly designed as an aid in perpetual 
standing. This practice, which the west Syrians believed to have been introduced by 
Mor Barsawmo. is also attested by the Life of Simeon Stylites and by John of 
Ephesus. 1 " Rabbula mentions the associated practice of self-suspension, which he 
says should be reserved for recluses. In his adaptation of a panegyric by John of 
Ephesus, the final redactor of the Life of Gabriel may have had in mind the alcoves at 

' * ' Hawluns/Mundcll, 'Mosaics', p. 9; Parry. Six Months in a Syrian Monastery ( 1 895). p. 332. with plan 
on p. 334; cf. Preusser. Baudenkntdier. p. 33, who docs not suggest any function for these ' Nebenraumcn'. See 
also the plan in Dolaponu, Deyr-el-umur tarihi (1971). p. 10. where the chapel is marked 'leading to Mor 
Gabriel's cell of servitude' (ibadethanesi), the literal translation being appropriate here, if not. perhaps, 

141 See n. 83; cf. xL.ta-xu-t; L. Simeon Stylites. p. 520: TTieodorct. Hist. Phil., xxvt.9. 


Community and individual 

Fig. 3 1 . North-east corner of conventual church. Qartmin (sixth century) and adjoining imitation (7cighth 
century), concealing juncture with sanctuary built on to the Cell of Gabriel 

Others stood in narrow standing-places and others propped themselves against walls all night long 
without any other support. Others strung ropes beneath their armpits and suspended themselves. 

(lvh.14-17; cf. LL. Eastern Saints, p. [410]) 

The rationale of this practice, as expounded by the Life of Barsawmo, is that no slave 
may lie down in the presence of his master; the true 'mourners' considered themselves 
literal slaves of an ever-present lord. 1 " 

Above the bench, in the bottom left-hand corner of the east wall, can be seen the 
former opening of the tunnel, now blocked up with masonry (C). Sunken in the floor of 
the upper room are five jars (H 1 -5) and the trace of a sixth (H6) which has disappeared; 
one of the jars has recently been excavated. Near the south wall are two manholes (Ii, 
1 2). Letting himself down into that near the east wall the recluse could get into a box (J) 
1. 6 1 mx 0.77 m and i.n m high (max.), in the floor of which is another manhole (I3), 
giving access to a similar box 1 .84 x 0.80 m and 1 .26 m high (max.). ' 6 * Both these boxes 
connect by narrow openings with boxes of similar width, but much greater length, to the 
west (K). 1 6 s Access to the latter is through the second manhole i n the floor of the upper 

101 L. Barsawmo, fol. 72b. 3 (not in summary). 

"* In the latter I saw, in 1 984,3 much-used sleeping-bag and a candle, evidence of the still popular practice 
of incubatio ad sanctos. 

'** Lower box: 4 m xO.94 m. height 1.56 m (max.); upper box: 4.16 mxo.89. height 1.116 m (max.). 

100 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

room and a similar hole in the floor of the upper box. In the north wall of the lower box 
at ground level is a small opening (N), which can be seen next to the east end of the 
platform in the lower room of the cell. 

Alt these curious arrangements are consonant with the requirements of a recluse. 
The jars in the floor would have contained supplies of dry pulses and water. The under- 
floor boxes must be a substitute for the pits in which Syrian ascetics used to *bury* 
themselves. 1 * 6 They probably functioned also as latrines, it being a suitable mortifica- 
tion to sit in a putrid place. The little window in the lower western box would have 
allowed excrement to be passed out to a servant-monk. The 'chimney' would have been 
blocked up with masonry. The bench would have been for sitting on when the recluse 
was no longer able to stand in the alcove. The tunnel would have allowed him at the cost 
of a painful effort to bring his face near the opening above the chapel and so to be 
present unseen at the Eucharist, perhaps even to receive communion. Imagine the 
appearance of the faceless prisoner's emaciated and filthy hand, reaching out towards 
that Mystery, for the sake of which he had chosen to live in a dark and stinking pit, in all 
the abjection of the most inhuman slavery! 167 

There can be no doubt that the community at Qartmin conformed to the Amidene 
pattern of monasticism, according to which recluses were accommodated in the heart of 
the coenobium. It also had its circle of cave- and tower-dwellers. 168 Caves and towers 
were favoured as pre-Christian Aramaic burial places. Smaller versions of the famous 
funeral towers of Palmyra are found in Northern Mesopotamia and even in Tur 
Abdin. 169 There are large numbers of cave tombs in Salah, Mzizah and elsewhere in 
Tur Abdin. This suggests that the anchorites intentionally imitated the dead by the 
forms of their dwellings. St Antony was perhaps the first but by no means the only 
hermit to brave the hordes of demons that infested the tombs outside his village. But the 
motive of those who actually constructed or excavated such dwellings must have been 
somewhat different. 

The contemplation of death is one of the duties of the monk. ' 70 Many Greek and 

180 e.g. Theodorcl. Hist. Phil., xxvi.6; MS Dam. 12/17, foil. 1 143.3-1 i6b-3: 'Mor John who finished his 
ascetic career in a well'; LL. Eastern Saints, pp. [191-4); L. Simeon of Olives, pp. 228-9 ("°t in Dolabani or 
summary): Simeon lived for a year in a cistern at Fenek and for another year in a cistern at Habsenus. where 
his disciple Basil ministered to his needs. 

■*' cf. xxxvii. 1 3-17. An interpolation in the 1710 paraphrase of the Life of Gabriel in the Berlin 
Paraphrase, fol. 92a (at uevn. 10) has the following: "There was in the cell in which he lived a pit {gubo), into 
which he would descend and where he would stay imprisoned for days, weeping. He became- even more 
extreme in his ascctism than he had been before. As for his cell, behold, it is still standing today. They have 
made a way through to it from the great temple and have nude it a sanctuary. There isan altar [throws] there 
on which the Eucharist is celebrated*. 

1 *• There are a number of caves around the monastery where tradition plausibly asserts that monks lived 
(cf. xxiv.6-7; xxxvii. 1 3- 1 7). In the case of other monasteries (Dayr al-Za'farfln and St Jacob by Salah, for 
instance) this pattern is attested by sanctuaries and crosses carved in the rock of the caves and by inscriptions. 
The largest cave-hermitage near Salah has a sanctuary dedicated to Mor Barsawmo; the largest of those 
above the Saffron Monastery has a church dedicated to Jacob of Nisibis (Ponton, Inscriptions, pp. 72-s; 
Wiessner. Kuttbauten. t, pi. XXIV). 

'*• Bell/Mango. TA. pp. 28-9. 109; pis. 108-12: perhaps this was the original purpose of the fine ancient 
tower east of the church of Mor Sovo at Hah (Aid., pp. 19, 53, 117; p|. 126). 

170 Procopius. Buildings, v.8 (on the monks of Mt Sinai): their life is a 'rehearsal for death* {meleti 
thanatou). We read in the Paris MS Syriaque 235, fol. Sob. of *a solitary who lived in a tree with a human skull 
hung in front of him'. 

Community and individual 101 



anginal wall 
liter addition 

I .inched nkhe 

caviiy in »»II 
(for Kamlinj in) 

, columbarium of 
41 com part menu 


rimJ-pUce of 

Fig. 32. Plan of the charnel-house at Qartmin, now called the 'Old Library', showing the positions of 
INSCRR. C.5 and C.7-11 and the place where LVSCR. A.8 was found {cf. fig. 55) 

some European monasteries have charnel-houses where the bones of dead monks are 
stacked and their skulls displayed, often wi th an icon of the Resurrection. ' 7 1 A charnel- 
house is mentioned in the Life of Aho: the Roman benefactor of the monastery of 
Bnoyel built a burial vault and a beth nfoso with a door of solid stone, symbol of 
eternity. 172 The literal meaning of beth nfoso is 'house of clearing-out': in the 
Chronicle of8tg and in parallel passages of the Qartmin Trilogy we read of at least two 
historic occasions when the burial vaults were cleared out and the skulls carefully 
counted. 1 7i The significance of this action is signalled by its inclusion among a very few 
other memorable events in an annalistic chronicle. Even if there were no traces of it, we 
might assume that there existed a special building in the monastery to accommodate 
these precious bones. 

As it is, there is a ruined building near the north-east corner of the conventual church 
which can hardly be anything other than a charnel-house (fig. 32). It had no windows 

171 I have seen such an arrangement at the monastery of Metamorfosis in Meteora. Thessaly, and have 
heard of it at St Catherine's on Sinai and at many monasteries on Mt Athos. « Tl See Ch. 2. n. 37. 

1 * J Chr. Qartmin 819, aO 756, 954(b); cf. uv.2-4. Lxxxvuj. 1-2. The author of the Trilogy probably did not 
know of another clearing-out subsequent to that of 643, but he placed that one a few years later to achieve a 
certain symmetry with the Life of Simeon. The number of skulls was 483 on the first occasion (misunderstood 
by Cat. TA, 6 Oct.) and 82 or 800 or (most likely) 802 on tbe second (see p. 62). The Trilogy claims there were 
'more than 400' monks at Qartmin c.400 (xix.8). 560 in c.420 (xld.2), 708 in 433 (xux.6), and 798 in c.580 
(uait.8; cf. lv. i i ). Whatever the value of these figures, what they suggest is confirmed (if it was not inspired) 
by Chr. Qartmin 8tQ, AC 756 and 954(b): phenomenal growth in the late fourth and early fifth centuries (the 
figure of 483 dead before c.440 is another indication that the settlement antedated the 'official' foundation 
date). We cannot be certain that alt countings of skulls have been recorded, but, if so, the second figure would 
suggest (even if we take 802 to have been the original reading) that the community thinned out in the post- 
Chalcedonian period considerably. 

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106 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 


Fig. 37. The Hermit's Pillar in the court of the monastery of Mor Lazarus near Habsenus, with the author on 
it (Photo: Stephen Palmer) 

birthplace of John of Ephesus was a monastery with a high stone column 'to which men 
used to come in order to stand upon it'. The bishop's earliest memories were of the black 
silhouette of the sty lite, which could be seen above the walls of the monastery from afar, 
and of his great, claw-like toenails (the clippings of which were treasured by the village 
women as fertility charms); for John spent his early childhood at this monastery. He 
learned that Maron, the stylite, had ascended the column against his wilt, under 
pressure from the villagers, lest the place of his dead brother Abraham be left vacant. ' 8 * 
Two to three centuries later this had become an institution: a column had its own 
monastic community, whose duty it was to serve the stylite and his visitors and to 
provide a successor for him when he died, needs which, in John's time, had been fulfilled 

••* LL. Eastern Saints, pp. (56]. (59-60], (69-70I. [81 J. 

Community and individual 1 07 


total height 7 m. 
height of pillar 5.5 m. 
circumference 7.6 m. 
inner diameter 0.80 m. 
door l m. x 53 m. 

base 4.8 m. x 4 m. 


Fig. 38. Sketch of the Habsenus Pillar with some measurements 

by kin and villagers. l a s Such a monastery made physical the relationship which existed 
in the minds of monks in this region, even where there were no columns, between 
coenobium and 'mourner*. The former looked up to the latter as the pattern of its 
founding fathers and its own ultimate ideal. This is why no monastery was without its 
recluses; it also explains the spread of ascetical practices proper to the Naziriteship 
through the rest of the coenobi tic community and the use of the term 'mournership' in a 
general, as well as a particular sense. 186 

c. The relation of village to monastery 

Seen from a satellite in orbit around the earth, Tur c Abdin resembles the coat of a tiger 
(fig- 39)- The bare limestone of the ridges, against which the hill-top villages are 
effectively camouflaged, alternates with the red-brown stripes of the fertile wadis, 
snaking their way down towards the central stream which, having carved a deep canyon 
in the east, flows into the Tigris under the citadel of Fenek; other streams, deflected by 
the watershed, nose west to the Tigris below Sawro and south to the Hirmas (Jaghjagh) 

'•» The priest who 'stood in front of Maron was his kinsman and was clearly being primed as his 
successor, by contrast, Simeon built a column outside the east gate of Nisibis with a ready-made supporting 
monastery ('of Mor Elisha') in the late seventh century (L. Simeon of Olives, pp. 21 3-14, 227 polabani, pp. 
133. 141J: summary, pp. 176, 177). 

'•* See notes 71. 92, 93 above; cf. Susan Ashbrook Harvey, unpublished dissertation, Birmingham, 1982 
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[ 12 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

the Recluses in the Life of Jacob of $alah made provision not only for the passing 
caravans, but even for the wildlife of the place. 208 Tradition asserts that one of the 
prime duties of the community of Mor Awgin was to supply water to travellers on the 
great trade-route which passed below that monastery. 109 These facts allow us to 
speculate that the site eventually chosen by Samuel's *Men of the Wall* for their 
monastery was determined by the course of the east-west mule-track by which travel- 
lers invariably crossed Tur Abdin before the construction of the modern road. 210 

108 L. Jacob, fot, 1743.1: summary, p. 5. »•• Leg. Awgin, pp. 39of. 

2 ' ° Socin. ZDMG 35 ( 1 88 1 ), pp. 24 j , 243; Preusser, Baudenkmal^r ( 19 1 1 ). p. 30; that monasteries might be 
sited by the wayside on purpose to serve the traveller is shown by Canon xi of the Katholikos Isho'jahb I 
(585). albeit intended for Nestorian monks (Can. E-Syr.. p. 147). 

Anastasius and Qartmin: The last monuments 
to imperial favour 

1. Philoxenos of Mabbugh and John Sa : oro 

The foregoing investigation of Upper-Tigritanc monasticism was prompted by an 
examination of the catalogue of holy men in the Life of Samuel and it was the 
cumulative nature of that catalogue which suggested a thematic treatment ranging 
from the end of the fourth to the early twelfth century. The departure from the 
chronological framework of this book is justified by the fact that the meagre local 
evidence is not self-explanatory; it can only be understood in the context of fuller 
descriptions from sources near Tur c Abdin which are widely separated in time, though 
in some respects they must be complemented from one another. In any case, it seemed 
right to treat the tradition as an organic continuum. The excursus gave some oppor- 
tunity for speculation as to the interior aspects of social phenomena which, in the region 
we are studying, can only be described in their exterior - often inanimate - manifesta- 
tions. It also served to bridge a gap in the history of Tur Abdin between the early and the 
late fifth century, just as, in the Life of Samuel, the catalogue of holy men makes a 
convenient transition between the foundation legend and the building activities of a 
fully grown community. 

Let us, then, like the author of that Life, 'return to our story' (xxvi.19), taking our 
cue from the same catalogue, where it names Abet 'who caused his column to bend 
down while he was on it and embraced Mor Akhsnoyo, when the latter came to obtain 
his blessing* (xxii.3-4). This 'Mor Akhsnoyo' is none other than the great confessor, 
Philoxenos (d. 523). Abel, 'the first sty lite who appeared in the monastery of Qartmin', l 
was in all likelihood an early imitator of Simeon (d. 459) and therefore an elder 
contemporary of the bishop of Mabbugh. At some date in the early period of Arab 
domination, the head of Philoxenos was brought from his distant burial place to 
Midyat and placed in a church built under his invocation quite near the monastery 
which was said to mark the place where Abel's pillar had stood. 2 In 1 145, this church 

1 Book of Life, p. 6. 

1 L. Philoxenos, fol. I I9a-b: 'Afteralong time Mabbugh was destroyed by thedisturbancesof the kings of 
the Greeks and the Arabs when they gained dominion over the sea coast. The members of Mor Philoxenos* 
family took the head of the saint and arrived and entered Tur Abdin (here spelt with OLAF; cf. Ch. 1 . n. 46) 
and built a church in a village called Modhyadh (Midyat). There they built a great church and placed in it the 

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1 1 6 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

name than that of its modem equivalent Bagokke: 17 and while Sozomen is probably 
stretching his phrase overmuch by including Aghlosh, there is nothing implausible 
about the inclusion of Qartmin, which lies near the top of a ridge directly connected 
with Bagokke. 'The great monastery of Beth Gawgal* was conjectured by Barsawm to 
have been a precursorof the Nestorian foundation of Mar Abraham of Kashkar, whom 
he therefore envisages as taking over a previous Syrian Orthodox foundation and 
'refounding* it in 571. l8 In the late seventh century we find the abbot of this Nestorian 
community, Rabban Gabriel *the Cow', locked in doctrinal controversy with the 
'Severians' of Qartmin. 1 * It was this kind of propaganda that Philoxenos had 
countered with his encyclicals to the monasteries of Beth Gawgal, for that ridge formed 
the frontier between Persia and Rome, a frontier which determined the denominational 
colouring of the area on either side of it. 10 

It has been suggested that Philoxenos, who was in high favour with Anastasius when 
that emperor decided to have a church built at Qartmin, was the instigator of this 
benefaction. 21 That is possible; no more. Any further attempts to link supposedly 
'aniconic' aspects of the decoration of the church with supposedly 'iconoclastic* 
utterances of Philoxenos, or to interpret the benefaction as a 'bribe' designed to win 
support for the election of Severus as patriarch of Antioch must be abandoned, because 
they are based on false premisses. 22 Only a tenuous link is made between Philoxenos 
and the Anastasian church by my inference from his letter to Eustochius. 

Another- perhaps a better qualified - candidate for the role of intermediate between 
the abbey and the emperor is John Sa'oro, to whom Philoxenos wrote on the occasion 
of his episcopal election. 23 The date of this event is fixed by the Qartminite Chronicle of 

In the year 795 of the Greeks [ad 483/4] John Sa'oro of Qartmin Abbey was made bishop of 
Amida, where he built a large and splendid church dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and 
a bridge over the river Tigris outside the city. 

Neither of these monuments survives, although an unpublished inscription suggests 
that the foundations of the bridge were incorporated in subsequent reconstructions up 
to the time when the present bridge was built. 24 The church of the Forty Martyrs served 
as a sanctuary for survivors of the Persian siege in 503. 25 

1 ' On which see Ch. 3, n. 7. 

11 Barsawm, KBB, p. 642; with Barsawm's alternative spelling compare the endnote of a MS at Azakh 
dated 1876: 'the monastery of Mor Abraham Kashkroyo in the mountain of Beth Gawgi'. 

»• SeeCh. 3, n. 127. 

!0 See dc Haileux, Introduction to Leu. Philox. G.H; Bell/Mango. TA, p. iv. 

21 Hawlcins/Mundell, 'Mosaics', p. 204. :J S.P. Brock in Bryer/Hcrrin, Iconoclasm (1977), p. 54. 

!J L. Philoxenos, foL 1 i6a-b: 'such a priest as this was needed by the church . . . because you are from the 
abbey of my spiritual fathers and were called and chosen from it (to the episcopacy)'. 

" The inscription, on a basalt block which is now covered by the Tigris except at the end of the summer, 
was photographed by an acquaintance of Prof. Dr R. Degen (Munich), who showed me the photograph: it 
seems to have begun 'In the year eight (hundred) . . .', which would place it in the sixth century. In 742/3 flood- 
waters brought down forests of walnut-trees in Ingilene (cf. LL. Eastern Saints, p. [558]!) which formed a jam 
for six or seven miles upstream from the bridge and eventually caused it to collapse (Chr. Zuqnin 775, p. ■ 7& 
[Chabot, p. 29]). The history of its restorations up to the presently surviving structure of 1065 is told by Max 
von Berchem in Berchem/Strzygowski, Amida (1910), pp. 3if. 

15 Chr. Amida 569, viu.5, pp. 78-9; cf. Chr. Michael 1195, ix.7b, p. 259. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 1 17 

The chronicler who records this fact, as an Amidene citizen of the mid-sixth 
century, 20 was in a position to write with authority about this bishop: 

Bishop John, a man of chastity and nobility and of dignified behaviour, had died a few days 
before (the siege], (This statement is corroborated by a contemporary of the siege, who calls him 
*the excellent John'; 1 ' his death must therefore be placed late in 502.] This man was summoned 
from the monastery of Qartmin when he was elected bishop. He did not alter his fasting or his 
asceticism or his practices, but continued to say his offices by day and by night. He warned and 
admonished the rich people of the city , at a time of famine and pestilence, when the Arabs were 
invading [the area] saying that they should not withhold the food-supply in time of need, but 
should sell it or even give it to the poor, lest by withholding it they should store it up for the enemy, 
as Scripture warns (Lev.26: 1 6], which is in fact what came to pass. This man had a vision, in which 
an angel appeared to him, standing beside the altar in the sanctuary, and gave him warning in 
advance that the enemy was about to come and that he, as he was a righteous man, would be 
gathered up before the enemy {arrived]. This prophecy he himself made public in an announce- 
ment to the people of the city, that they might repent and be saved from Wrath. 28 

He adds that John gave his blessing to Nonnus of Scleucia and foretold that he would 
become bishop of Amida after him. The prophecy came true, though not 
immediately. 29 

John Sa c oro, whose sobriquet probably means 'the healer', should be identified with 
'Mor John', whose commemoration was made on 2t August at Qartmin and in Tur 
Abdin. 30 The dedication of the church which he built in Amida is probably connected 
with the existence, since 409, of a church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in his abbey. 3 ' 
His building activities in Amida were probably financed out of the imperial coffers. 
Indeed, such was the public and strategic importance of a bridge over the Tigris that 
John might be presumed to have acted for the emperor in building one. 32 There was 
nothing unusual about this. Bishops throughout the empire were involved in building 
projects initiated and financed by the Christian emperors. In Edessa, Bishop Rabbula 
had converted a Jewish synagogue into a church of St Stephen at the command of 
Theodosius II. 33 Thomas, bishop of Amida, the immediate successor of our John, was 
charged by Anastasius with supervising the building of Dara. 34 

! * There is an excellent introduction in FJ. Hamilton and E.W. Brooks, The Syriac Chronicle known as 
that ofZachariah of Mitytene (London. 1899). 

17 Chr. Edessa 306, p. 304 (Ch. 83); it is interesting that the author's pro-Flavian (and anti-Philoxenian) 
stance (H. Gelzer, Byzantinische Zeitschrift i (1892), pp. 34-49) docs not affect his good opinion of John. 

18 Chr. Amida 509. VU.3, p. 24; cf. Chr. Michael 1195. 1x7b. p. 258. 

" Chr. Amida }69, vn.4, p. 28: cf. Chr. Michael 1195, UC.13C, pp. 267-8. 

" Cat. TA t 2 1 Aug.: if this is the date of his episcopal consecration, the year given in Chr. Qartmin 819 (ao 
795) may be incorrect, since 21 Aug. 484 was not a Sunday, though 2 1 Aug. 483 was; Chr. Qartmin S19, pp. 4, 
6, has a point over the SEMKATH, implying the vocalization sdoro (sa"ara), not s'oro, as understood by 
Chabot in the translation (see also his translation of the passages of Chr. Michael 1195 cited in notes 25, 28 
and 29 above; cf. Honigmann, Eveqves, p. 234 n. I ; de Haileux, in Eli de Qartamin, ti, p. 9), nor sa'ra (Nau), 
se'ara*. (Kruger), fra\ (Honigmann) etc. This vocalization is given in the MS of L. Philoxenos and in 
Barsawm, TA, p. 45 and Dolabani. History 0/ Qartmin (1959). p. 80. That it was an unfamiliar word is shown 
by the Syrians' care in pointing it and by the adoption of the more familiar so'uro (cf. Ch. 3, n. 1 1 7) by MSS P 
and B of the Qartmin Trilogy. This equation cannot be right, because so'uro had an ecclesiastical sense 
incompatible with John's office. 'Heal' is one of the senses of far, we have seen that John was counted a saint. 

Jl xxxn.i. J1 Capizzi, L'imperatore Anastasio /(1969), pp. 215—16. 

" Chr. Edessa 540. ao 723. 

'* Chr. Amida 569, VU.6, pp. 34ft cf. Capizzi. L'imperatore Anastasio I (1969). p. 218. 


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120 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

sumamcd 'sons of Shufnay'. He sent also goldsmiths and silversmiths and 
broiuesmiths and ironsmilhs, men to make pictures and 'combers' [i.e. smoothers] of 
marble blocks, men skilled in putting together mosaics to make the forms of crosses and 
"ell-orderedcommitteesofiearnedadvisers, [all of them] skilled in building in a manner 
worthy of praising God and of honouring his saints. (Lix.6-t 5 ) 

The sense of the italicized words is difficult and my translation can only be justified by 
taking the two problematic phrases individually. A literal rendering of the first might 
be: and-workers-of objects-characterized-by-the-imposition-of-a-scal in-things-put- 
toge her-to-make-a-composite-whole".*' Pognon, comparing the descriptions of the 
sanctuary m §6 with the surviving decor of that sanctuary, jumped to the conclusion 
that the word hthme, 'objects-characterized-by-the-imposition-of-a-seal\ must mean 
mosaics because tt ts applied to the opus sectile pavement and to the mosaic-covered 
vault. Leroy subsequently attempted to justify this on etymological grounds, but 
could only do so wtthm the wider extension of the French word 'sceller' which can 
mean both 'to mark with a seal' and 'to affix with cement'/' The Syriac verb HTM is 
never found w,th the latter meaning. Johnson pointed out the correspondence between 
the recurrent cross-motif in the surviving pavement and the frequent use of HTM to 

m ^ ? P °! C thC SCal ° fthe cross '' whether b * a S esture or °y a mark." He might have 
added thatthemost prominent feature ofthe mosaic on the vaultis the three crosses the 

arms of wh,ch while studded with 'jewels' of coloured tesserae, are executed in gold (fig 
40). Cross-designs are the common feature shared by pavement and vault and I 
therefore propose this as a translation of hthime. 

It is true that pavement and vault can both be described as 'mosaics', but only in a 
w.dcscnseof the term. The Syriac word for mosaics, attested in the hymn on thechurch 
at Edessa as well as in our text, is derived from the Greek kubos and connotes the 
cubic tesserae; dearly ,t could not also be used to describe an opus sectile pavement. But 

™„J u . mra *i vo//, °' meanin § 'things-put-together-to-make-a-complete-whole', 
could well have been chosen as an umbrella-term covering both types of 'mosaic' 

The second phrase is divided from the first by a point, showing that the scribe, at 
least, was not tempted to take it as a further complement of the construct 'workers-of*- 
nor,, seems .does Syriac grammar allow such a construct to take such a weighty double 
complement." The phrasemust therefore be considered as an independent member of 
alis-Sinceittsalistofseparategroupsof experts, the word /mnvrve must not be taken in 
. ts literal sense of benches' but in its transferred sense, 'advisory committees'/' and the 

KS^£? abstract for concretc: ,of knowied8e ' meanin * * com p- d <> f 

It is perhaps somewhat odd that the craftsmen should be supposed to have special- 

though technically admissible - 

The translation of the last unit as "in chariots' rests on a false 
vocalization of the text: b-markvotho for ba-mrakkvotho 

A nastasius and Qartmin 1 1 1 

Fig. 40. Cross in mosaic on vault of Anastastan sanctuary, Qartmin 

ized in cross-designs. The explanation, I think, is that the list of experts was drawn up by 
inference from the writer's knowledge ofthe completed building. As will be clear from 
the rest ofthe passage and from a description ofthe surviving building, hewn stone was 
needed for the walls and for the arches spanning the vault, bricks for the vault itself and 
for the smaller vaults in the sanctuary. Goldsmiths were needed for the hanging-lamp 
and for some ofthe objects hanging from the bronze trees - perhaps also for the gilded 
tesserae of the mosaics; silversmiths were needed for the chain on which the lamp was 
suspended, for the altar-vessel, and for other objects on the trees; bronzesmiths for the 
trees themselves and for many ofthe objects on them, as well as for the domed ciborium 
above the altar; ironsmiths, presumably, for the clamps which bind the stone blocks to 
one another (cf. §8). The 'pictures' are probably to be understood as icons, because the 
most likely purpose ofthe recesses in the east wall ofthe nave is to receive icon-panels 
(see p. 134). The altar was marble, so that masons skilled in working that stone were 
needed. Marble was also used in revetting the walls of the sanctuary. If my interpret- 
ation is correct, the last two categories in the list, mosaicists and advisers, show clearly 
that the writer was 'working backwards' from the finished product: he saw that the 
pavement and the vault of the sanctuary were decorated with cross-designs, so he 
posited a skill especially for making such designs. The advisers were needed for the 
liturgical and scriptural aspects ofthe design, which our writer must therefore be aware 
of, though he does not mention them. 

What could not have been deduced from the building itself is the names of the 
architects, Theodore and Theodosius, the so-called 'sons of Shufnay*. 'Shufnay' is 
attested in the Legend of Malke as a woman's name. 40 It is unusual, though not 
unheard-of, so for a matronymic to take the place of a patronymic among the Syrians, 
and this may be why the writer qualifies it by the words 'and they were surnamed'. Two 
architects were employed by Justinian to design Haghia Sophia in Constantinople, and 
'Asaf and Addai', who are named along with Bishop Amidanos as builders of the 
domed church in Edessa, are usually considered to be a similar yoke-team of archi- 
tects. 5 1 It has been suggested that one would be responsible for structural design while 
the other was entrusted with the decor and furnishings. J z Our text is perhaps the earliest 
attestation ofthe activities ofthe 'sons of Shufnay'. John of Ephesus may have related 

** Ch. 1. n. 37. ,0 One signal example is John bar Aphtonia. 

1 ' Sugitho, verse 2 line 2a; H. Cousscn. .WW 38 (1925), pp. 121-2; K.E. McVey. 00? 37(1983). p. 98. (But 
see A. Palmer. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 12 (1988), pp. 127-28 for a different view.) 
" H. Goussen, Mus 38(1925). p. 122: •dereine . . . fur den Rohbau.deranderefurdiclnnenausstattung'. 

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126 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

seen in the surviving pavement. 82 The marble slabs with which the walls were revetted 
have disappeared; but small pieces of broken, white marble slabs have been used to 
repair the pavement. 83 The writer implies that the whole expanse of the walls was 
covered with marble, forgetting the mosaics in the lunettes; I think his negligence may 
be due to the fact that these mosaics (being mere 'reflections': see on §5) did not add 
anything of substance to the 'symbolic furniture' of the sanctuary. 

§7 Back in the temple again, on either side of the entrance to the sanctuary, are fixed two 
bronze trees, each of height 20 cubits. On the leaves of the trees there were [sic] places for 
trembling lanterns, one hundred and eighty on each tree, and [there were] fifty silver 
chains [attached to the branches! from 'op to bottom (of the trees], on which [were] 
suspended bronze objects resembling scarlet eggs, and cauldrons, animals, birds, 
crosses, crowns, bells, lamps [?] and wheels, some of which [were] of gold and some of 
silver and some of bronze. It is quite impossible to calculate a figure that would 
represent the combined weight of all these things. (LX.14-LXI.2) 

Temple' here, as in §§5 and 6, means 'nave'. 84 The writer began by giving the 
dimensions of the nave, then described the sanctuary; now he moves back into the nave 
to describe the trees which flanked the entrance to the sanctuary. It makes better sense 
to describe things this way round, because, while the trees are there to frame the altar, 
the symbolic movement is from the altar outwards. 

The scriptural key is to be found in Ezekiel, Chapter 47 and Revelation, Chapter 22. 
In the first passage the seer describes the stream of water which flowed out from under 
the threshold of the holy place and the numerous trees on either bank of this stream. The 
water of the stream was life-giving and, because it came out of the holy place, the trees 
which drank of it had undying leaves and their ever- ripening fruit brought healing to 
those that ate it. This version is developed in Revelation, where the stream of the water 
of life is described as proceeding 'from the House of God and of the Lamb'; the 'tree of 
life' stands on either side of the stream, offering its fruit for the healing of the nations. 
The 'tree of life' is of course the Cross of Christ." 

A congregation instructed in this would have seen more in the aspect of the sanctuary 
than actually met the eye. They would have seen a way into the holy place through the 
Tree of Life, that is, the Cross; an intimation of Paradise in the representation of lush 
vegetation; the throne of God within with attendant beasts and representative cherub 
and the One who came down upon it in the Eucharist; the stream of living water in the 
Liturgy of the Word, read from the threshold of the sanctuary; and the fruit of the tree 
in the sacrament itself, brought forward at the high point of the ceremony from the altar 
to the threshold and offered as 'the holy things to the holy people'. The concept which 
united all these symbols was that of the heavenly Jerusalem. It is probably this that led 
Philoxenos of Mabbugh to make a comparison between Jerusalem and Qartmin; for 

11 Pace Hawkins/Mundell, 'Mosaics', p. 282: cf. pp. 138-40, below. 

" See fig. 43 and Hawkins/Mundell, 'Mosaics', pis. 47. 48. 

** Here most clearly distinguished from the sanctuary. 

■ J The Book of Revelation was not included in the official tectionary of (he Syrian Orthodox church but it 
was known in the monasteries of Tur Abdin, where it was copied in the late twelfth century (Glynn, The 
Apocalypse, pp. cxiiiQ in a translation which may be that commissioned by Philoxenos of Mabbugh some 
years before our church was built (ibid., pp. xciv-xcix; cf. ibid,, Ch. vti). 


Anastasius and Qartmin 127 

there is no obvious correspondence between the ancient monuments and city plan of the 
earthly Jerusalem and the buildings of the abbey. 86 

Grabar has discussed the Constantinopolitan and the pagan Syrian ceremonial 
trees, which are related to the trees of our church. 81 The candelabras ranged above the 
entrance to the sanctuary in the church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople 
contained crosses (the Tree of Life) and were assimilated to trees by a contemporary 
poet. aa Lucian describes the burning of great trees in the precinct of the Syrian goddess 
at Hierapolis in the second century, after their branches had been hung with animals 
and birds and gold and silver objects and articles of clothing. 80 The custom of 
decorating cultic trees with 'precious objects and sweet-smelling herbs of every kind' is 
attested, supposedly for the sixth century, in a pagan village of Armenia visited and 
converted by Mor Abo. When he arrived, he found the inhabitants feasting and 
carousing under such a tree; they were sacrificing cattle and sheep in front of it. There 
were virgins, too, in plenty, adorned with finery and dedicated for the day to indiscrimi- 
nate 'sacred' harlotry under the tree. 90 

Whatever the cultural or cultic background of the trees (and the ex votos hung on 
them are certainly reminiscent of paganism 91 ) their Christian symbolism cannot be 
denied. Hawkins and Mundell incline to attribute the trees to the imagination of the 
writer, suggesting that the only trees that were ever to be seen in the church were the 
images in the mosaics. 92 The tree-like candelabras in Haghia Sophia, however, make 
the existence of bronze trees in a sixth-century church built at the abbey by craftsmen 
sent from the City plausible enough.* 3 Besides, the writer must have had a vivid 
imagination indeed if he invented these extraordinary objects. Rather, the mosaics 
themselves should be seen as derivative; they reproduce, with some artistic licence, the 
view to be had of the sanctuary from the nave, with the domed altar flanked by the trees. 
This 'paradise-image' was thus made threefold as a symbol of the Trinity. 

The height of the trees (8 metres) is astounding. They must have come right up under 
the corbels from which the vaulting arches spring. That they were 'fixed' we may take to 
mean 'fixed with brackets to the wall*; for this alone makes their height credible. 9 * The 
objects (cauldrons and so on) should be imagined as small trinkets. The item marked in 
my translation with a query is corrupt in the text; Nau offers an emendation which, 
though unattested, might be understood as 'carved objects*. 9 5 But carved objects would 
hardly be included in a list of things made of precious metal. I suggest that we should 
read lampidhe, 'lamps'; this involves supposing that MIM was mistaken again for 
WAW followed by LOM ADH (cf. p. 1 24), and that DOLATH and OLAF were left off 

" xvra.8-1 1; see p. 115. » 7 Grabar, CA 8 (1956), pp. 86-91. 

" Paul the Silentiary, Description of Haghia Sophia, cd. P. Friedtander, pp. 23 1-2 lines 871-83; cf. fig. 8 on 
p. 288 and commentary on p. 293. '* Luctan, de dea Syria, §49, p. 22. 

*° L Aho, foil. 1 87a- 189a. esp. fol. 187b. *' Grabar. CA 8 (1956), pp. 89-91. 

91 Hawkins/Mundell. 'Mosaics', p. 292. 

" I am grateful to O.P. Nicholson for pointing out a parallel in Luitprand of Cremona's (tenth-century) 
Aniapodosis, 6.5: 'Aerea, sed deaurata quacdam arbor ante imperatoris sedile stabat, cuius ramos itidem 
aereae diversi generis deaurataeque aves replebant.' 

** The plaster on the wall prevents inspection of the stone for traces of such brackets. Two of the stone 
blocks outside the west door of the church stood until 1973 on either side of the entrance to the sanctuary; they 
may have been bases for the bronze trees (cf. fig. 9; p. 39). •' cf. Leroy, CA 8 (1956). P 81. 

Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

the end of the word, which might be due to a tear in the page of the manuscript from 
which our scribe was copying. This is a tentative emendation only. 

The last problem in this difficult paragraph is the change from present to past 
tense.*" Grabar attempts to explain it as a perfect tense, implying that the objects had 
been hung on the trees by particular persons at particular times. 97 This will not do, first 
because the verb is past continuous, and secondly because the only place where the sign 
of the past tense appears refers to the places where the lanterns were hung, which were 
surely a permanent feature. Probably a later scribe, unconsciously influenced by the 
fact that, by his time, these things had fallen prey to some raiders and vanished, slipped 
in the enclitic (h)wo which makes ith, and by implication all that follows, belong to time 

§8. This splendid temple was built in the middle of the abbey. It is surrounded by porticos 
on the north, south and west [sides]. The whole structure of the temple rests on the little 
pebbles and chips of rock which were laid by the angel and Mor Simeon : the ground was 
not excavated to sink foundations for it. On the south side the architects left this 
[rubble] to be shown, so that men might see that it had not been cemented or clamped 
together with iron. All visitors come and touch the rubble for a blessing; and the earth 
and the sand between the stones can be used to heal all kinds of illnesses. (LXi.1-9) 

The word Temple* reverts in this paragraph to its wider sense, embracing the whole 
church. The statement that it was in the middle of the abbey should be compared with 
my plan (fig. 2) and with the passage in the Book of Life concerning repairs made to the 
roof of the church in 1502, where it is called 'the great broad Temple of Mor Gabriel, 
which is in the middle of the abbey'. 98 

Of the porticos on the north and south sides undeniable traces have been found. 
Those on the south side show that the porticos were originally roofed with horizontal 
beams, supported at one end by the blocks of stone which can be seen on the south side, 
projecting from the wall (the existence of these may be assumed on the north and west 
sides also) and, at the other end, by stone arches running parallel to the walls of the 
church. The west portico must have had a horizontal roof, too, because otherwise the 
high windows on that side would have been covered up, as they are now. 

§9 The finishing touches were put to this holy temple and these amazing objects and regal 
vessels of the highest quality were brought from the Imperial City in the year 823, in 
which Mor Severus was consecrated patriarch of Antioch. (LXi.9-12) 

The Seleucid year 823 spans the twelve-month between 1 October 5 1 1 and 30 September 
512. This date is correct for Severus* consecration; it also tallies with §1, which puts the 
event in the twenty-first year of Anastasius. The synchronism reinforces the impression 
of credibility which the whole text makes by its attention to detail and its matter-of-fact 
tone. The scriptural symbolism of the furniture of the sanctuary is consistent and, in 
some respects, unique; yet the writer does not allude to the Scriptures on which it rests, 
nor does he explain its meaning. It is inconceivable that a falsifier inventing such details 
would have used such ingenuity without taking pains to expound it. We have seen that 

•• Lcroy, CA 8 (1956). p. 81. " Grabar. CA 8 {1956). p. 91. 

»• Book of Lift, in Barsawm, TA, p. 96. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 129 

our author constructed a posteriori a list of the craftsmen and experts who were needed 
and that it is likely they came on to Qartmin from Dara, which he does not mention. He 
was therefore probably not present in the abbey during those first twelve years of the 
sixth century; but there is no reason why he should not have been a near-contemporary. 
The later sixth century was so troubled that the precious objects he describes so 
minutely can hardly have survived the consecutive menaces of Hunnish invasions, 
imperial persecutions and Persian raids. The Trilogy states that the Persians took the 
last of them when they plundered the abbey about 580." 

This building record may thus be set alongside those discussed in Chapter 2. The 
whole collection was probably compiled in a separate register, overlooked by the 
'chronicler' of 819, but incorporated in the Trilogy by the author of its composite 
redaction. Embedded in the stable tradition of the Calendar ofTur <Abdin, as well as the 
Book of Life, are commemorations of the emperors Arcadius, Honorius, Theodosius II 
and Anastasius. l0 ° These were not the only Christian emperors acceptable at Qartmin. 
The only alternative criterion for their selection seems to be their status as benefactors 
of the abbey. The Calendar otherwise shows no dependence on the Trilogy. 101 If its 
commemorations do not derive from our building records, then they may be said to 
corroborate them. 

3. The identification of the church 

In commenting on this text I have occasionally anticipated in assuming that the church 
in question is the same as the conventual church still in use at Qartmin today. There is 
no real doubt about this, although the reservations of Guyer and of Baumstark have 
never had an explicit reply. 102 Guyer's instinct for architectural style prompted him to 
accept the early date, but he thought that the nomenclature of the abbey and the 
dedication of the church pointed to a date in the seventh century. In fact the Arabic 
name dayr al-umr, derived as it is from the Syriac dayro d- c umro, has nothing to do 
with the caliph 'Umar ibn al-Kha;pab (634-44), ' 03 and there is no evidence earlier than 
1502 for calling the church after Gabriel of Beth Qustan (d. 648); l0 * nor does the story 
of a connection between Gabriel and the caliph deserve to be taken seriously. ' ° * There 
is a sanctuary of Gabriel attached to the north-eastern corner of the church, but it is 

99 v.i 1-20: the context is fictitious, but the reference is no doubt to the raid of 580/1 (Whitby, 
Theopbylact', p. 194 n. 7; Chr. Qartmin 819, ac 89 1 ), but it may be true that the abbey was raided twice by the 
Persians, since the entry in Chr. Qartmin 819 reads: 'the Persians came up again and burned the monastery of 
Qartmin'. '*• Cal. TA, 10 Nov.. 18 Dec., 13 Oct., 30 Jul.; Book of Life, p. 1. 

">' Contrast e.g. Cat. TA, 6 Oct. with section 14 of the Life of Simeon, 

101 S. Guyer, Repertoriumfur Kunstwissenschaft 35 (1912), pp. 483-508; Baumstark, OC tj (1915), pp. 

'<" Pact Pognon, Inscriptions, p, 39, who was misted by the 'Kurdish' form, dlr 'amr. The correct 
explanation is given by Peelers in Anal. Boll. 27 (1908) (see Sources, IC.?),p. 1 30: diral-'Amr is a corruption of 
the Syriac dayro d-'umro, 'monastery of the abbey', 'theabbey* being understood almost as a proper name (cf. 
Chr. Gregory a, col. 88 note). The Berlin Paraphrase (of 1 7 10) has a note calling the abbey by this Syriac name, 
but in 1 731, when it was deserted of monks and occupied by the Kurds whose centre was at 
was referred to in Arabic as Der al-'Amr. belonging to Haytam (Wright. MSS London, pp. 881-2; cf. S.P. 
Brock, Ostk. St. 28 ( 1 979), p. 1 69 and n.7). The modern Turkish is Deyrulumur manasttn, not to be confused 
with the 'Monasterium Deiriloomor* near Baalbek (Assemani, Dissertatio (1719), sub voce)*. 

104 See pp. 128 and 133. '«» See Ch. 5. section 1. 

130 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

clear that it was added later, so that Gabriel's death provides a terminus ante (rather 
than post) quem. X06 The 'inconsistency' between building and description alluded to by 
Guyer, who derived that opinion from Baumstark, was the starting-point for an article 
by the latter. The argument is flawed by the fact that Baumstark used an unreliable 
text 107 and had never seen the building. Thus a hasty consultation of Bell's work on 
Qartmin led him to assert that the church could not possibly be described as being 'in 
the middle of the monastery*; and that, if the mosaics in the sanctuary are old, the rest of 
the church must have been added on to an earlier altar-room. In fact, there are many 
ruins to the east of the church in addition to the buildings on the other three sides and 
the structure of thechurch itself is integral. 108 From the Berlin Paraphase of the Trilogy 
Baumstark derived his 'columns' (estune), no trace of which was recorded by Bell or 
Preusser: ' 09 but the correct text reads 'porticos* or 'arcades* (estowe) and traces of these 
have been found. 

There remains the inconsistency between the measurements of the church and those 
given in the text. To Baumstark this seemed much more serious than it is, since he tried 
to fit them to the whole complex, not just to the nave. I have suggested a simple 
emendation by which the remaining inconsistency over the length of the nave can be 
removed.' 10 

The posi live evidence for identification is overwhelming. The ground plan , including 
the traces of three porticos, corresponds exactly with the text. The same six colours of 
marble can be identified in the pavement of the sanctuary as are named by our writer. 
The cross-designs in that pavement and in the vault mosaic provide an apt explanation 
of an uncommon word in the description. The wall mosaics depict an altar with a 
domed ciborium flanked by trees, just as the altar described in the Trilogy must have 
looked from the nave, between the two bronze trees which stood by the entrance to the 

The incipit of a Greek inscription in mosaic: iyevtro tuovowfio. . . . ('The mosaic work 
was created ...'), which originally ran along the bottom edge of the wall mosaic on the 
south side of the sanctuary, exhibits a script which Cyril Mango attributes to the sixth 
century, and the style of the mosaics themselves is consistent with this date. Mango adds 
that it would be very odd to find a Greek inscription in this part of Mesopotamia after 
the sixth century. 1 > » This is also a reason to add to those adduced by Marlia MundeU 
Mango for dating the church of Ambar between 507 and 530, a church which has a very 
similar outline to that at Qartmin. 112 

At this point the reader is more than ready for a full description of the church as it 
stands today. Already in the previous chapter the complex around the 'cell of Gabriel* 
was described and interpreted, so here it may be left aside. 

l0s See Ch. 3. section 5, b. '<" That of the Berlin Paraphrase, foil. 780-81 a. 

10 » Bell/Mango, TA, p. 6, 'masses of ruined walls can be seen to the east' (see my plan. fig. 2); ibid., pi. 215 
shows the unity of nave and sanctuary from the exterior (the south facade). 

l °» Pol. 80b; the correct text and interpretation were in Pognon. Inscriptions, pp. 40-1, but Bell/Mango, 
TA, p. 8. introduced the idea of an atrium. ' l0 See p. 124. 

111 C. Mango, in Hawkins/Mundell. 'Mosaics', p. 296, with pi. 39. 

'" M.M. Mango, CA y> (1982), pp. 48, 56-7; fig. 9. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 131 

4. Description of the conventual church (fig. 44) 

However the modern visitor enters the monastery, he has to go down several steps and 
several levels of antiquity to the level on which the church stands. The erosion of the 
great stone blocks which form the triangular south facade is a further eloquent witness 
to its venerable age. On this side can be seen the narrow outer openings of the four 
windows in the south wall of the nave and of the little window in the south wall of the 
right-hand chamber of the sanctuary. Below the latter and to the left is a side entrance, 
with a semicircular arch over the Untel, which once gave direct access to the sanctuary 
for the clergy. 1 1J It is now blocked up with masonry and provides cupboard-space on 
the inside in the remaining thickness of the wall. This must have been done before 1296 
when the monks fled before a raid of 'Tatars', 'blocking the entrance (singular) of the 
temple with stones and mortar*; when they returned, after four months, 'they opened 
the entrance of the temple' again. 11 * Clearly the west entrance is meant. The same 
raiders removed 'the three window-grids from the south side and the window-grids 
from the sanctuary'. 1 IS These window-grids were made of stone and traces of them 
have been found around thechurch, bearing the dates [tfcoo and 1607 (in the Seleucid 
era). l '• The first shows that the windows were blocked up in ad 988/9 (to judge by the 
report quoted above, the four east and one south window of the sanctuary and the three 
lower windows on the south side of the nave were fitted with grids); the second, that the 
grids were replaced after the raid in 1 296. They were not taken out again until 1963 . ' ' T 
All the windows on the west side of the church were also blocked up, though at what 
date is unknown. In one of them was set an inscription commemorating the 'Persian' 
(Seljuk Turkish) raid of 1 100, during which the church was used for fourteen days as 
quarters by the raiders." 8 

The message of all these blocked entrances and associated reports is clear: through- 
out the Middle Ages and until recent times the monastery has had to ward off potential 
plunderers. Churches built in Tur Abdin during these uncertain times always had tiny, 
fortress-like slits for windows and the older buildings were, without exception, adapted 
in this way for defence. This is what causes so many churches in this area to be so dark. 
Many a European visitor has taken this darkness for another sign of the supposedly 
'oriental* tendency to mysticism. But, besides the motive of security, one must take into 
account the weather, which is cold here in winter, though snow does not often lie for 
more than a month. There would have been no glass in the windows, so that the 
architects had to compromise between light and warmth. The answer was usually to 
make the outer opening small but to spread the light as widely as possible in the interior 
by a widely splayed casement, roofed over by an arch (fig. 42). Nowhere is this more 

1 ' > Such a separate entrance to the sanctuary is found in some other monastic churches in fur Abdin, e.g. 
that of Mor Jacob at Salah (Bell/Mango. TA, pi. 234). 

1,4 Book of Life, in Barsawm, TA, pp. 93-4. ll > Book of Life, in Barsawm, TA, p. 94. 

'" See INSCR. A. 14 and next note. 

' tT Book of Life, p. 1 29: 'In the year of our Lord 1963 at the end of October the abbot. Monk Joshua Q^ek 
opened three windows in the church which had been blocked up since the year 1 296, as we read on the stone 
window-grids'; the era 13 not specified, but the coincidence with the date of the Tatar invasion (see n. 1 14 
above) makes it almost certain that Cicck converted a Seleucid date (unfortunately he does not remember). 

■ l * WSCR. B.t 3. 

[32 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Fig. 42. The Anastasian church, Qartmin: interior, facing south (Photo: Bernt Larsson) 

spectacular than in the thick walls of the Anastasian church at Qartmin. If the three 
windows above the portico on the west side were open, the nave would be filled with 
light. 11 * The two windows at nearly ground-level on that side to either side of the 
entrance opened under the portico and are not splayed towards the interior. They are 
also abnormally large on the outside. Clearly they had a different purpose. I suggest 
that was to give those who, for reasons of sin, sex, sickness or superfluity, had to stand 
outside the church, a glimpse of the sanctuary entrance, the focus of the Eucharist. The 
main sanctuary itself must always have been rather dark, except when the early summer 
sun sent its shaft in at the right angle. Perhaps here a mystical intention was indeed at 
play. The holy of holies would have been filled, after all, with the light of the golden 
hanging-lamp which, like the single window, may be a symbol of the 'Light of the 

"* cf. Can. W-Syr., 1, p. 10: "Let the churches be light, both for the symbolism and for the readings/ 
110 LX.IO. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 133 

Below the level of the windows on the south facade of the church are eight projecting 
blocks of stone at regular intervals in a single course, above which the wall is noticeably 
more weathered and discoloured. These were clearly intended to bear the weight of 
beams which would have been supported on the outside by a row of arches. The beams 
carried a horizontal roof and the whole structure formed one of the three porticos or 
arcades described in the Trilogy as surrounding the church on the north, west and south 
sides. Photographs show remains of the arches flanking the church on this side, but 
these were buried in concrete in 1974. It appears that the wooden roof was destroyed at 
one time, perhaps by the Persians about 580, and replaced at a later date by a brick vault 
(possibly the 'portico* funded by Patricia, the daughter of Elus(riya, governor of Dara, 
in the early eighth century 111 ). The course below that from which the beam-rests 
project has been chipped away on its lower side to form a wedge-shaped ledge running 
the length of the wall, and in this ledge is encrusted the broken base from which an 
arched vault sprang, made with the thin brick found in Tur Abdin as late as the mid- 
eighth century. 122 This vaulted arcade had not yet been fully destroyed when Bell 
visited the monastery before the First World War.'" 

The arcade on the west side of the church rests on its ancient arches, but there, too, 
the roof has been rebuilt with a vault, this lime in masonry. The position of the outer 
openings of the three upper windows on this side, now concealed under the cement 
successor of a tiled roof which probably dated back to 1502, 1 : * shows that the original 
roof of the arcade must have been flat. It is reasonable to suppose that the original 
beam-rests exist here beneath the later masonry at the same level as on the south side. 

The north arcade has left some traces, but also an enigma. At least two ancient, well- 
constructed arches flanking the church at the right distance on this side are incor- 
porated in the north wall of the lower chamber of the 'cell of Gabriel'; but one of them is 
73 cm higher than the other. Possibly the higher arch marks the former entrance to an 
associated building on this side, as the high arch in the temple of Mor Samuel connects it 
with the vaulted building to the south. 

The west entrance of the church is covered by an imposing lintel formed of two great 
blocks of limestone (the stone used throughout the structure of the building), in the 
middle of which is carved an archaic cross in a roundel, very similar to the lintel cross of 
the church in the monastery of Mor Daniel of Aghlosh (fig. 13), probably likewise a 
sixth-century building. 1 2i To the left of the entrance, in one of the blocked-up 'squints', 
is a fine inscription tn the hard red stone quarried in Badibbe,'" which was set up in 
c.i 105 by Bishop Basil Shamly, the first official bishop of the monastery after it became 
a separate 'diocese* in 1088. 1I7 

Entering the echoing nave one is struck by the massive thickness of the walls which 
bear the great transverse barrel- vault. Arches let into the walls at intervals all around 
the nave add to the available space, while strengthening the structure. Those on either 

121 MSCR. C.I. '" cf. INSCRR. B.1-7, dating the church at $alah. 

111 Bell/Mango. TA, pi. 216; cf. Hawkjns/Mundcll, 'Mosaics', pi. 4 (taken in 1972). 
114 cf. Book of Life, in Barsawm. TA, p. 96. '" Wiessner. Ruinenstatten, p. 58. pi. XII. 

1 " ISSCR. B. 1 3; according to local informants Badibbc is the only source for this stone in Tur 'Abdin. 
117 Pognon, Inscriptions, p. 48; for the date 1 105, see the full account of the Book of Life, in Barsawm. TA, 
pp. 91-2. quoted in my discussion of ISSCR. B.13, pp. 224-25. 

134 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

side of the entrance to the Holy of Holies, which is directly opposite the main entrance 
(also over-arched in the thickness of the inner wall) contain tombs in which lie holy 
relics. 1 2a Upon the tombs rest heavy office books, written out by hand. These niches, 
like the two side entrances and the higher main entrance to the sanctuary, are closed by 
brightly stained and sequinned iconographic curtains in a distinctive local style. l " The 
three sanctuary entrances have massive lintels with semicircular relieving arches; at the 
sides the recess under the arch pierces the wall through, but in the centre it stops short of 
that. There are two roughly rectangular recesses in the east wall of the nave, one on each 
side, between the side-entrances of the sanctuary and the tombs of the saints. I did not 
measure them, but they are about 1x1.5 m and about 10 cm deep. There are similar 
rectangular recesses in the east wall of the nave of the church of Mor Jacob at §alah. one 
on each side of the entrance to the sanctuary. Might they have been designed for holy 
pictures, on the analogy of the Greek iconostasis? 1 J0 

Dotted about the walls of the nave are small rectangular cubby-holes which were 
probably dug out of the original stonework as convenient nests for the long beeswax 
tapers used to read the offices by night. 

The floor of the nave was repaired in 1973, covering the flagstones seen by Prcusser 
and Bell. At that date also the stone kneading-trough -a monument to the community's 
prosperity in the eighth century - was moved away from its earlier (though not its 
original) position on a masonry base in front of the sanctuary entrance, where it had 
served as a book-rest during the offices, to the north-west corner of the nave. 131 The 
elaborate font in the south-east corner of the nave (dated 1968), like the elegant bell- 
tower (dated 1971) which crowns the south facade, attests the latter-day wealth of 
Qartmin and the skill of local Christian stone-masons. (The second, south-west beil- 
tower, built in 1979 to house the bell from the abandoned church of Mor Cyriac in 
Kfarburan, and the present stone altar in the Holy of Holies, which replaced a former 
wooden altar in 1951, are less accomplished works.) 

The barrel-vault of the nave, which has a greater span than any other in Jur Abdin, 
is twice ribbed across with stone arches springing from projecting blocks in the upper 
stone courses of the already curving walls and knitted together in the square areas 
between by concentric brickwork in chiastic formation. An almost identical structure is 
that of the eighth-century vault of the splendid monastic church at Salah, though there 
the vault is edged with fancy brickwork in patterns of herring-bone and interlocking 
pantiles, which apparently does not exist at Qartmin. This is not to say that the 

,! » See Ch. 2. n. 68. 

,2 » Several from other churches in Jut Abdin are illustrated in Wicssner. Kuttbauterr, made in Mardin, 
they are also a distinctive mark of the churches where emigrants from Tur c Abdin worship. 

' J » M. Mundell. in Bryer/Herrin, konoctasm (1977). p. 72, concludes that the Syrian Orthodox preferred 
iconic panels to figural wail-decoration. Her case for doubting whether icons were kept on permanent display 
in the mam churches is a less strong one. however, and one of the chief testimonies adduced for it can be 
otherwise explained: Chr. Amida 569, vu.4, p. 28 tells us that Kawad found an icon of Christ in the treasury of 
the church of the Forty Martyrsat Amida, where it had probably been placed for security during the Persian 

111 Socin, ZDMG 35(1881), pp. l5}~4 t cr.C.F.Uhmznn-}iaupt, Armenienemstundjetzt,i(i9io),p, 370; 
Preusscr, Baudenhndler, p. 31; Bell/Mango, TA, pis. 217-18; according to M. Sykcs, The Caliph's Last 
Heritage (1915). P- 35*. 'here was an oven for 'altar-breads' under the slab. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 135 

brickwork was not intended to be seen, although since 1867 it has been largely 
concealed by plaster. 132 

The ground plan of the church is like that of most monastic churches in Jur 
Abdin: 1 " a communal hall with its greatest length from north to south, designed for 
• the antiphonal singing of the offices around book-rests at either end, alternating with 
prostrations and 'standings' in long rows facing east (reminiscent of congregational 
practice among the Muslims); one main entrance on the west side, there being no need 
to divide the congregation by sex; the sanctuary, for all its holiness, an adjunct rather 
than the raison d'etre of the building, divided into three altar-rooms, perhaps because of 
the need for a number of priested monks to "offer the sacrifice' separately. Balancing the 
sanctuary chambers on the west side of the hall was an arcade (in some cases, a long, 
thin antechamber), which may have played a liturgical role as a place of prayer for 
novices. At Qartmin there were arcades on the north and south sides also. Some 
monastic churches of this type have other associated structures, some have none. The 
focus of monastic life was the daily round of offices, not the Eucharist, however 
important the latter may have been. John of Ephesus tells us a great deal about almost 
every aspect of coenobitism, but nothing at all about a common celebration of the 
Eucharist. 134 This does not mean that such a celebration was not held, but it tells us 
something about John's priorities as a monk. The monastic church of Tur Abdin 
reflects this emphasis. 

The typical parish church of Tur Abdin, by contrast, is designed with the congrega- 
tional Eucharist in mind. I3s A longitudinal nave directs attention towards the apse of 
the sanctuary, which is not closed off by a wall, though a screen or a curtain (together 
with the raised sanctuary platform) is used to symbolize the division between holy and 
lay precincts and to make visible the alternate public and mystical aspects of the 
Eucharistic liturgy. In the length of the nave a division is effected between men and 
women, the women normally sitting at the back behind a screen. (An ancient screen 
stood in the church of Mor Azazael at Kfarze on either side of a simple bema, that is, a 
round pulpit, being an unfenced stone slab supported by four stone columns, which the 
priest or reader used to mount by steps from the east. ' 3<s ) Many parish churches have 
two entrances in the south wall, one for either sex; some monastic churches also have 
more than one entrance, but there the essential difference is between un priested 
'brothers' and priested monks, who can enter the sanctuary directly by a separate door. 
Corresponding with the long transverse antechamber on the west side of the monastic 

1,1 Pace Bell/Mango, TA, p. 33. 

m Ibid,, p. ix; the exceptions are the Nestorian monasteries on the southern escarpment, a fact which 
should be put down to the denominational difference (Wiessner, Ruinenstatten, p. 5; cf. W. Liebeschuetz, 
Studies in Church History 16 (1979), p. 21, with note 31). Baumstark, OC 15 (1915), pp. in-31, adduces 
evidence that the Nestorian Eucharist was a public one, which would explain why they did not adopt the type 
of monastic church here in question. u * See CI1.3, n. 54. 

1,5 Bell/Mango. TA, pp. vjii-ix; MM. Mango, CA 30 (1982). p. 57. would see the church at Ambar as a 
'parish' church in spite of its monastic plan; Wtessner, Kultbauten, 1 is on the churches with transverse nave, ll 
on those with longitudinal nave; E. Heinrich, Kunst des Orients l (1950), pp. 5-19. would derive both from the 
same ancient Mesopotamia!! origins, suggesting that the distinction grew up because many monastic 
churches were modelled on that at Qartmin, where the orientation of a former temple was preserved, while the 
altar was shifted into a side-room to be approximately at the east. 

>*• Pognon, Inscriptions, p. 91; Bell/Mango. TA, p. 45, pi. 158. 

136 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

church, and perhaps supporting the view that this was a parallel prayer-hall of lesser 
degree, the antechamber of the typical parish church runs parallel to the nave on the 
south side. In this case it may have been intended for those whom the canons of the 
church had forbidden for a while to enter the church itself, by way of penance. 137 
Supplementary chambers behind or beside the apse of the sanctuary were either 
sanctuaries of particular saints or vestries for the deacons and lower orders of village 
clergy. 138 

The church itself is always dedicated to a saint, of whose body, usually, it claims to 
possess a relic. 119 The conventual church of a monastery, by contrast, is not normally 
placed under any invocation, although other churches in the monastery may have 
specific dedications. There it is the burial vaults of the holy founders and former holy 
men which provide the main focus of veneration and the central locus of sanctity. They 
are visited regularly, for example, after evening prayers on a Saturday. 1 * The monas- 
tery is known, not after a patron saint, chosen from the canons of the church, but after 
'the holy men who are in it': significantly, the word 'entombed' is often left out.'* 1 

The village church of Tur c Abdin has another feature which is absent from the 
monastic model: an outdoor oratory (beth siutho) on the south side of the church 
building, consisting of a simple apse at the east end of a courtyard. 142 As the mihrab is 
the essential feature of a Muslim place of prayer, so this prayer-niche represents the 
minimal material expression of a Christian oratory. No doubt the villagers came in 
ancient times, as they come still now, three times to church in the course of the day. To 
avoid ail the bother of taking offmud-caked boots at the door of the church and putting 
on the slippers provided, it may often have seemed simpler in fine weather to hold the 
prayers outside. Perhaps, also, as the custom of filling these apses with funerary 
inscriptions suggests, burial services were often said in the outdoor oratory: from there 
the way was more direct with the body to the grave and unpleasant smells were 
dissipated in the open air. Occasionally, clergy were buried in a vault underneath the 
apse, as, apparently, at Heshterek. ,4i 

This excursus was necessary to put the design of the Anastasian church at Qartmin in 
its true perspective. Baumstark was surely wrong to try to date all the churches of Tur 
Abdin with open sanctuary (that is, parish churches) before those with a wall between 
sanctuary and nave (the monastic churches). 14 * To mention only a practical consider- 
ation: the dividing wall was structurally unavoidable in the latter, inasmuch as it was 
needed to support the barrel-vault of the nave. It need not be liturgically significant. 

1,7 This is what thecanons mean by 'separation from the church'; eg. Can. W-Syr., a, p. i3(No. 2o)[Nau, 
p. 104 (No. t88)J. l " That behind the sanctuary is usually dedicated to the Mother of God. 

1 " A preliminary list of dedications in Tur 'Abdin, derived from Dell/Mango. TA, Wiessncr, Kullbautcn 
and Barsawm. TA. pp. 31-2, includes Abay, Abbay, Abraham, Addai, Abo, Azazael, Bar-badh-b-shabo, 
Barsawmo, Bossus-and-Susan. Cyriac, Dime|, Dodho, Elijah, Ephrem, the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, Isaiah 
(of Aleppo), Jacob (of Nisibis). Jacob (ofSerugh), John (the Baptist). John (of Kfonc). Lazarus (of Harran), 
Malke, Mary (the Mother of God), Nicolas (Zokhe), Philoxenos (Akhsnoyo), Qawme. Samuel, Sergius-and- 
Bacchus, Shmuni, Simeon (of the Olives), Simeon (of Qartmin), Sovo, Stephen, Theodore; only those of 
Philoxenos (Midyat) and Simeon of the Olives (rjabsenus) are derived from historical events (see pp. 1 13. 
164) M0 Socin, ZDMG 35 (1881). p. 254. 

141 The title of the Qartmin Trilogy (1.2) is a case in point. '** Bell/Mango. TA. p. x. 

141 Pognon, Inscriptions, p. 191; cf. Appendix, section 1. 

'** Baumstark, OC 15 (1915), pp. 114-16. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 137 

Besides, the Anastasian church at Qartmin and the contemporary church on a very 
similar pattern at Ambar near Dara are proof that whatever liturgical conclusions can 
be drawn from such a ground plan apply already in the early sixth century in our area. 
Baumstark, a keen theorist of liturgy, was inclined to see the 'closed sanctuary' as 
evidence of a mystic celebration of the Eucharist, as opposed to the primitive open 
celebration.* * s He may be right. But he must be wrong in dating the introduction of 
that development in the Syrian Orthodox church as late as the mid-seventh century. • * 6 
It is noteworthy that all Baumstark's evidence for the 'open' liturgy comes from the 
Roman Catholic and Nestorian churches, and that the Greek, Coptic and Syrian 
Orthodox evidence in his article uniformly points to the 'secret' liturgy. 147 Jacob of 
Edessa (d. 708) is his earliest Syrian Orthodox witness, but there is no reason why the 
practice should not have antedated him. The mystic celebration may already have been 
current, at least in monasteries, by the early sixth century. 

The sanctuary of the church of Qartmin, though it is architecturally a mere extension 
added to the conventual prayer-hall, is compensated, at least in its central chamber, by 
the magnificent mosaics with which it is decorated. They are unique in our region and of 
immense importance for the history of this art in the Byzantine world, as very few pre- 
Justinianic wall mosaics have survived. The Qartmin mosaics have been adduced as an 
early instance of the aversion from animate figures in representational art which is 
thought to have been widespread in Mesopotamia before the age of Iconoclasm. 148 
This tenet is well established already and the rarity of our mosaics makes their 
significance disproportionate in discussions of this vital question of Byzantine history. 
The vault mosaic shows three crosses in medallions ranged from west to east above 
the altar in the direction of the curve of the vault. The space around the crosses is filled 
with the curling tendrils, leaves and grape-clusters of four vines growing out of four 
wide-bellied vases, the stems of which arc lodged in the corners of the vault. This design 
is bordered by three bands of patterned decoration. The border, which forms a 
rectangle in the curve of the vault, also forms semicircular frames on the north and 
south sides for the mosaics which filled the upper part of the side walls of the sanctuary, 
the 'lunettes'. These have been badly damaged, especially that on the north side, but it is 
clear that both represented the same scene, namely an altar flanked by two trees and 
surrounded by four columns wi th capitals, on which rests a domed ciborium. The upper 
surface of the altar in the south lunette mosaic is partially preserved; it seems to show 
two chalices and a round loaf of bread marked with a grid-pattern. Lamps hang from 
horns above the columns which support the dome. Around the trees is an undulating 
garden with shrubs and flowers; and there is fruit on the branches of some of the trees. 
The background here, as on the vault, is gold. 

It is certainly remarkable that no person or animal, not even a bird, is depicted. But 
this need not indicate aversion from animate representation as such. Indeed, if we are to 
believe the report preserved in the Trilogy, it cannot be such an indication, since the 
figures of a cherub and of the Four Beasts of Ezekiel's vision adorned the original altar, 

141 Baumstark, OC 1$ (1915). P " '5 *** Baumstark. OC 15 C<9>5>- P l2 9- 

» 4 ' cf.n. 133 above. . 

|4 » Hawkins/Mundell. 'Mosaics", p. 294; see also the plates accompanying that article and pi. 30 in edd. 
Garsoian el al„ East of Byzantium (1982). 

138 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Fig. 43. Two photographs of the opus secsile pavement in the Anastasian sanctuary at Qartmin 

for which the mosaics were made (like a precious casket to contain a pearl). 1 ** 
Moreover, the chalice with which the emperor endowed it was decorated with medal- 
lions representing Christ's earthly ministry (LX.7-8); and 'animals and birds' were 
among the trinkets hung in the bronze trees by the sanctuary door (LX.20). But if it was 
not because of a principle based on a literal interpretation of the Second Command- 
ment, why were the mosaics made *aniconic*? The answer may well be that they were 
conceived as a splendid background for the altar and were thus designed to direct 
attention towards it, not away from it, just as the church as a whole was made plain in 

'*' cf. Prcusser, Baudenkmdler, p. 32: 'Wahrend die %ixazK Kirchc von aussen wie von innen kahl und 
unschcinbar aussieht mil fast absichtlicher Vcrmeidung des geringsten Ornaments, ist man titer [im 
Aitarraum) mit der Ausschmuckung gcradezu verschwenderisch umgegangen*; moreover, the worshipper in 
the sanctuary itself should have eyes only for the altar itself. 

Anastasius and Qartmin t 39 

the extreme in order to direct attention towards the sanctuary. If this is right, then our 
mosaics are not relevant to the question of iconoclasm. 150 

The walls of the sanctuary below the level of the mosaics, that is, below the bottom of 
the vault and the top of the doorway, were originally revetted with marble, fragments of 
which have been used to patch the pavement. The two sides of the west wall are now 
adorned with nineteenth-century paintings in a style reminiscent of the illustrated 
Gospel Book in Azakh/tdil. * 5 ' Doorways in the western end of the north and south 
walls communicate with the relatively uninteresting side-chambers of the sanctuary. 
Recesses in the walls of the Holy of Holies serve as a basin and as bookshelves. 

The pavement of the sanctuary (fig. 43) is a fine example of opus sectile in six colours 
of marble, black and white and red being used everywhere, while green is used only in 
the whorl and amber only for the central disc (around which this whorl appears, by the 
interplay of light and dark in a pattern of radiating curves, to flicker first, and then to 
spin). Purple was apparently used only in a single band across the threshold of the 
sanctuary. Around the whorl, which is ringed by a band of crosses in squares and 
another of lozenges, a rectangular area framed by rows of 'arrow-heads' baffles the eye 
with a grid of crosses in squares, alternately light on dark and dark on light. Within the 
larger squares formed by the grid are further crosses, aligned on the diagonals of the 
squares, which themselves are composed of little squares containing crosses, that in the 

1 *° Thealleged iconoclastic tendencies of Severan monophysites in general have been shown by S.P. Brock 
(in Bryer/Herrin, Iconoclasm (1977). pp. 53-7) to have been falsely attributed to them. 
**' H. Anschutz. Osik. Si. 31 (1981), p. 330. 

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146 Monk and mason on (he Tigris frontier ^. 

have been brought into relation with the 'descent to the East* of the ruthless military " 
patriarch Ephrem in the winter of 536/7, during which he drove many opponents of i 
Chalcedon out of their monasteries and made a determined effort, in accordance with 
the policy of the emperor Justinian, to stamp out this divisive tendency in "± 
Mesopotamia. As it is, the inscription falls within the first ten years of Justinian's reign, 
during which there was supposedly a 'moratorium' on persecution. 163 
The Qartmin Trilogy refers to the descent of Ephrem: 

He sent to the abbey to persuade the monks with forceful arguments that they should throw in 
thetr lot with his parly, but they paid no attention to his request. So he sent an armed force against 
them, while he himseir took up residence in the church at Nisibis, and he pursued and scattered 
them to many regions . . . Some went to the massif of Corducnc, or to the mountainous regions of 
the interior to the north, others to the desert of 'Arab or to the province of Singara, or else to Mt 
Tzala and other places, to escape the violence of the persecution. There they built monasteries and 
abbeys. But they returned to this hoty abbey . . . after an interval of twenty years, to find it 
breached and its buildings ruined. But the temple (i.e. the Anastasian church| had suffered no 
harm ... The monks rebuilt the ruins and shored up the damaged buildings. But they were the 
victims twice more of intolerant assaults and were scattered for a total of ten years . . . Thus 
homecoming took turns with exile until the end of the life of King Justinian. 

(Section 4 of the Life of Gabriel) 

Unhappily, this is a piece of deception on the part of our writer. He has taken most of 
the above from John of Ephesus, playing havoc in the process with the chronology of 
the persecutions. <" Ephrem's 'residence in the church at Nisibis" certainly never 
occurred; our author has introduced it into his quotation from John, forgetting that 
Nisibis was at that lime in Persian possession. He has also varied the list of mountainous 
ranges. A passage in the Chronicle of 569 names 'the monasteries of Arab and of 
Mesopotamia, of Izala and of Beth Gawgal' among those which suffered in the earlier 
persecution 1 * 7 and it seems probable that these included Qartmin. 1 " But during 
Ephrem's descent Tur Abdin is as likely to have been a place of refuge for the obstinate 
believers as it is to have suffered itself. Even before that, life was uncomfortable for 
opponents of the council in the cities and on the plains of Mesopotamia, because all 
thetr leaders had been replaced by Chalcedonians. The new bishops did their best to 
force the population into submission. Those who resisted had, according to the Life of 
John of Telia (a reliable contemporary memoir), to take refuge 'in mountains and in 
tombs and in caves and in "the chinks of the earth" \«« The inscription of 534 at 
Qartmin may have recorded the flight of certain priests to the monastery, rather than 
from it. 

There was no real relief for the Monophysites under the successors of Anastasius and 
certainly it would be rash to suppose that in the intervals between the most violent bouts 
of armed repression the churches and monasteries of the insubordinate entered into 

'•• Chr. Amida 5 69. vu.. 5 p. 82; LL. Eastern Saints. Ch. 35 (with Brooks. Introduction, p. iv n 8V Chr 

PP ;. 3 . 5 " 4l D , i L Ea " ern 5 T"' PP - l4,9 - 2 °l' *" Chr. Amida 569, vn.. 5l pp. 80-. 

Leu, Phiiox. G.i, p. 147. confirms that the monastery of Beth Gawgal had already been persecuted 
under ihe predecessors of the emperor Zeno; Lett. Phiiox, G.tu section 1. addresses the glorious abbeys and 
holy communities^ .thai are on the mountain of Beth Gawgal'. which in all probability includes Qartmin 
(see p. I loj. "*» L. John of Telia, p. 57. 

Anastasius and Qartmin 147 

their old relationship with the government. They were certainly determined to rebuild 
their monasteries and would do so any number of times. ' 70 But they worked with their 
own hands, rather than commissioning architects and builders trained in the capital. 
The octagon of Qartmin cannot be dated in this period, nor can it belong to the time of 
the last Persian wars. After those came the Arab conquest, under which Tur Abdin 
recovered sufficiently to begin expanding once more. The spate of buildings begins in 
the late seventh and continues throughout the eighth century (see Table 2, p. 194-5). 
But the octagon cannot have been constructed in this period, either. Already in 777, 
when the stone kneading-trough was placed there (see p. 214), the original purpose for 
which it was built had been forgotten. 

What was that purpose? The similarity in structure between this building and the two 
free-standing mausolea at the western end of the monastic complex might mean that the 
great domed octagon was also associated with burial (fig. 2). But its great size and the 
absence of any trace of tombs under the arches rule out the possibility that it was just 
another mausoleum. Its proximity and similarity in scale to the conventual church is 
another clue: its original function was perhaps associated with the liturgy. The symbol- 
ism of the baptismal rite is that of death and resurrection. As St Paul expressed it: 
'Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised 
up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of 
life.' ' 7 ' It is well known also that the number eight was associated by the Fathers of the 
Church with the same symbolism. 172 In the words of St Ambrose: The number eight 
contains the fullness of Resurrection.* 171 The octagon was therefore the ideal structure 
for a Christian tomb; it was equally well-suited for a baptistery. 17 * It was no accident 
that the octagon at Qartmin Abbey was built on the same plan as the mausolea; the 
monks of Qartmin were well aware of the symbolism of eight. t7i For what other reason 
did they delay the burial of an abbot or a bishop until the eighth day? 176 On an 
analogous principle, though more practically (considering the climate), the burial of 
church dignitaries in Mesopotamia commonly took place on the third day. l77 We need 
hesitate no further in claiming that the great octagon at Qartmin was built as a 
baptistery and that the vaulted hall which was constructed at the same time beside it was 
intended for the preparatory rituals of baptism. 173 Further confirmation is found in the 
existence of a cistern underneath the octagon, first signalled by Leroy, who came to the 
same conclusion about the octagon on the basis of its similarity with other 
baptisteries. 179 The monastery of St Simeon the Stylite near Antioch contains an 
octagonal baptistery in which the font is preserved; the latter consists of a pit with steps 
leading down on one side and up on the other. ' 80 Probably pilgrims came especially to 
be initiated at these holy monasteries. 191 At the Saffron Monastery near Mardin there 

1T0 LL. Eastern Saints, pp. {too-8|, (220). '" Romans 6:4. 

,Ti Dolgcr, Symbolik (1934). pp. 153-87: 'Das Oktogon und die Symbolik der AchtzahT. 

"* Ambrose, expositio evangelii secundum Luc am, VIM73 (P- 359)- 

,? * M.M. Robertt. Arte Lbmbarda 8 (1963). pp. 77-98; csp. pp. 94-5. 

1 ' ' The superscription of the eighth book of Michael's Chronicle (p. 1 63) shows that the memory of this 
symbolism persisted with the Syrians into the twelfth century: "on the eighth day he comes to renew 
everything'. "• xxxn.10; Li.6-9; lxxxvh.8. '" L. Theodotos, fol. 593.2; cf. xxxix.6. 

"* As suggested by J. Leroy, CA 25 (1976), p. 4. ,7 * J. Leroy, CA 25 (1976). p. 3. 

l *° Tchalenko. Villages antiques de la Syrie Ju nord, I, pp. 237-8 with 11. pi. LXXV. 

' • ' That would explain why the font at the monastery of St Simeon was designed for mass-baptism. The 
monastery of Mor Abraham and Mor Abel near Midyai also has a baptistery (see n. 3 above). 

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150 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

traditionally founded before 421, he might have provided Qartmin with a monastic 

As late as 567 Justin II, at the request of the Monophysites in the capital, sought to 
reconcile the monks of Mesopotamia to the imperial religion by sending the Patrikios 
John to call a council at Kallinikos.' Present among other abbots was John of 
Qartmin:' the monks of his abbey were chiefly responsible for the failure of this attempt 
at reconciliation. 7 K 

There can be little doubt that this John is the man who was made a bishop by Jacob 
Baradaeus for the see of Dara, an ordination which occurred after John of Ephesus 
wrote his Life of Jacob in 566.* This did not mean that he supplanted the Chalcedonian 
bishop, but that his title, to which no temporal power was officially attached, stood as a 
challenge to the legitimacy of the official bishop. He may have continued to reside at 
Qartmin, for many bishops of the alternative hierarchy resided in their monasteries at 
this time, a practice which continued in many places after the need for it was gone and 
which was to make the concept of a bishop, whose 'diocese' was the monastery where he 
resided, an acceptable one in the Syrian Orthodox church.' For this reason, the Persian 
capture of Dara in 5 73 need not have deprived John of his titular diocese, only of his 
nval ,n that diocese. Honigmann's hypothesis that John moved to the see of Amida 
after the fall of Dara is therefore unnecessary; nor can it have happened just like that 
unless the previous metropolitan of Amida conveniently died at the right time »• 
Honigmann had recourse to such a theory only because the Chronicle ofZuqnin in 
retelling from John of Ephesus the story of the death of a former abbot of Qartmin 
identifies him as John, bishop of Amida.' • It seemed, therefore, to Honigmann thai 
our John must have occupied the sees of Dara and of Amida successively. That 'there 
was a bishop John of Amida about this time need not be doubted, although a certain 
scepticism as to the accuracy of hisjloruit in the Chronicle ofZuqnin is justifiable ' ' But 
the chronicler is likely to have confused him with the bishop of Dara 

John of Ephesus, in his account of the death of Jacob Baradaeus at the end of Julv 
578 m Egypt tells us that one of his companions, a bishop who had been abbot of 
Qartmin, died three days before him." This is the authoritative report, on which those 

r™ m i„u_ "™ ,ua S ™ °en rsauer H910). pp. xvi-ivii, mi n. I; Rahman . Studia Svriaca 1 n ti- l\**t~r 

^^Z^^ 79 ' *"*"*• ™* PP - 332 " 3 ' aUaCh " Danid <° »» "« Abu Kcmal: 

• rt u'T! 234 ' "' P u P - 24 *~ 7; Chr Michaet '">5> *•*- PP- 333-5- 

• Ch, &£ ™jT np ^ * 3 " d J ° hn ° f Qar,mm and ° ,hcr P romin «t men and clerics.' 

• L. Jacob Baradaeus li, p. | 5 88J with n. 5; cf. Honigmann, Eviques. p. 239 

Mother of bishops 151 

of later chronicles are based. That of Zuqnin, as we have seen, identified the bishop 
wrongly as John of Amida. Michael called him 'John, bishop of the abbey of Qartmin, 
by whose agency the schism at Edessa over the term oiwi was healed.* 14 In spite of the 
credibility of such a circumstantial statement, this cannot be accepted in toto. John of 
Ephesus would not have said ( a bishop who had been abbot of Qartmin' if that bishop 
was consecrated for the abbey. Besides, Qartmin was certainly not a 'diocese' in its own 
right at that date. 15 Probably this is a scribal error; what Michael originally wrote was 
\John the bishop.yhwi the abbey of Qartmin'. l6 We know that John of Dara was from 
that abbey; it was he that accompanied Jacob to Egypt and died there in 578. 

That he intervened successfully in a dispute at Edessa is an interesting fact, though 
we do not know its original source. The history of the quarrel is told by Michael in Book 
x, Chapter 3 of his Chronicle; it does not concern us here, but no doubt Michael's source 
for that chapter also supplied the detail about John. He was therefore a man whose 
political activities extended beyond his diocese; he travelled around with Jacob 
Baradaeus, like an apostle, to 'edify the churches'. He is almost certainly one of the 
three Johns whose name is often appended, with that of Jacob, to the Monophysite 
encyclicals preserved in Add. MS 14,602 of the British Library, the other two being 
otherwise accounted for. ' 7 

The prominence of this former abbot of Qartmin in the politics of the Syrian 
Orthodox church in its formative years may well have contributed to the ecclesiastical 
standing of his abbey. The fierce resistance to reconciliation with Constantinople 
shown by the monks of Qartmin in 567 was enough to make them heroes when their 
church as a whole came round to their point of view. The recent past may thus have 
helped to determine the way the church regrouped after the total conquest of Mesopo- 
tamia by the Persians in 613. For the abbey then emerged as an important centre of 
jurisdiction in the church. 

As long as it had belonged to the Romans, Jut Abdin had been liable to punitive 
raids from beyond the frontier on which it lay. 18 In 581 the raiders sacked Qartmin; 1 * 
with them vanished the last of the precious objects which had borne witness to the 
golden age of Anastasius. 20 No doubt the archives of the monastery were damaged; this 
may be when the record of the building of the octagonal baptistery perished. 11 Yet Tur 
'Abdin remained an outpost of Roman military force for another quarter of a century. 
Not until 604/5 was th e castle on its south-eastern escarpment taken by the Persians." 
In these years of political and military uncertainty the fortunes of the Syrian Orthodox 
church at a local level are unknown. Cyriac, whom anti-Chalcedonians recognized as 
bishop of Amida, was the most important man on the Tigris frontier, as far as our 

14 Chr. Michael H95, X.15C. p. 3^5- " See p. 153 

ia The omission of the word men from the phrase d-men qartmin might well have seemed innocuous 
enough to a scribe, or even a sensible emendation, since ii is odd that the bishop's see is not mentioned. 

1 7 Doc. Monoph., pp. 1 45, 1 89. 1 95. 1 96, 204 and 209; H.C. Kteyn, Jacob Baradaeus ( 1 882), p. 1 80 and p. 
190, calls (he first two the bishops of Qenneshrin and of Epiropolis/Seleucia; the last he calls 'the bishop of 
Sura or of Dara' (p. 180) and, later, 'bishop of Sura or of Amida' (p. 190). presumably because he supposed 
that John of Dara later became John of Amida. 

1 ' These area Leitmotiv of the Qartmin Trilogy; to judge by the rouie taken by the army of Assumasirpal II 
in 879 bc (see the Introduction), the abbey of Qartmin lay on (he path of an invader. 

** Chr. Qartmin 819, kg 891; dale corrected by Whitby, "Theophylact'. p. 194 n. 7. 

*» v.18-20, supported by common sense. :| cf. Ch. 4, ad fin. " Cftr. Qartmin 819, kg 916. 

I5 2 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

communities were concerned. 2 J He was to play a vital role in the policy of the patriarch 
Athanasius I *the Camel-driver' to re-establish the unity of the Eastern and Western 
branches of his church under his own primacy, after the Persian conquest of 613 had 
removed the international boundary between them. 

There is no evidence that Syrian Orthodox ever endeared themselves to the enemy by 

acts of positive disloyalty to their rulers. 2 * Theophylact Simocatta even represents the 

inhabitants of Tur Abdin as unusually active supporters of the Romans in the Twenty 

Years* War with Persia (572-91)." But the Persian conquest brought incidental 

benefits for them. Khusro II (590-628), influenced through his Christian wife, Shirin 

drove out the Chalcedonian bishops of Mesopotamia and Syria from their sees no 

doubt because they were identified with the imperial church, and supplied replacements 

for them from among the Christians of his own empire." At first, recognizing the 

Nestoriansas the most un-Roman type of Persian Christians, the shah sent one of them 

to Edessa, the prime see of Osrhoene and, in a sense, of Mesopotamia. But the 

experiment was a failure; Khusro realized that the Monophysite population must be 

governed by bishops of their own confession. Among these, he gave preference to the 

Syrian Orthodox of the region of Mossul, again for political reasons, as the persicized 

branch of their church. Some dioceses, however, protested that these bishops had not 

been ordained by their patriarch but by the metropolitan of Mossul, who thus seemed 

to be extending his jurisdiction beyond its historically determined boundaries. The 

patriarch, with the help of Cyriac of Amida, whom he made Visitor General of the East 

including the region of Mossul, had some success in re-establishing the formalities of" 

the traditional order and made an attempt to draw Mossul into the common fold, while 

respecting in some degree the autonomy to which political conditions had accustomed 

it. Yet a certain rivalry between East and West would remain the central preoccupation 

of the Syrian Orthodox church for the rest of its history; in the two centuries following 

the Persian conquest of Mesopotamia it was a running sore. 

To judge by the role of Qartmin in this conflict, it had early fallen under the influence 
of the eastern community. Some speculation is inevitable if we seek to know when this 
happened and how. Probably the roots of the relationship go back to the sixth century, 
although even earlier there were the missionary-monks and bishops of Tur Abdin who 
were active, occasionally to the point of martyrdom, in Persian territory (xxm.6) In the 
fifth century, however, the Nestorianization of Persia presented a threat against which 
the main defence of the communities which were later to become the Syrian Orthodox 
of Persia was solidarity with their fellow believers in the West; nor had the alienation of 
Mesopotamian Christianity from the imperial church yet reached a serious level What 
had already occurred in the fifth century was the flight of non-Nestorian Christians in 
Persia to the monasteries, where thenceforth their centre of gravity lay. A similar 
historical crisis in the sixth century formed the monastic character of the Syrian 

"t ™" M J C ! >ael " 9S ' * * 5C ' PP 390 ~ L " A H M Jones - JTS ss 'O •* 0959). P 292 

inhabiianlsof Tur Abdin. the people of Mardin prayed all day for Roman victory at Solachon. and country 

Z vrlrn^ med , ",?"*> ,hC Pcraan garri$on «*"*"« ,hcir 'own.' If . am righ .0 datc^he 
martyrdom of Karpos to this war or its near sequel ( P . 2 3 f.). it might support this. 
-• Chr. Michael n 9} , x.2 5 c. pp. 389-90; L. Jacob Baradaem //(Appendix), p. J615J. 

Mother of bishops 153 

Orthodox church in Roman territory. It was the monks who carried the banner of anti- 
Chalcedonianism and, when it came to the deposition of their official bishops in the 
cities, they continued to harbour a rival hierarchy in their cloisters. With the thorough 
campaigns of the early sixth-century Chalcedonian patriarchs of Antioch to suppress 
this monastic resistance, many monks and some bishops took refuge beyond the 
boundaries of the empire. It was in Mt Singara that John of Telia was apprehended, to 
be extradited for a bribe by the Persian frontier-genera! of Nisibis. 27 When we 
encounter, in the early eighth century, a dependency of the monastic community of 
Qartmin in Mt Singara, we must regard the sixth-century persecutions as the most likely 
occasion for its founding. 28 

Long before 613, the monks of Tur Abdin had formed strong ties with their fellows 
across the frontier. For many decades, they lived under the jurisdiction of the Chalcedo- 
nian bishop of Dara, a state of affairs which can only have reinforced the feeling that 
they were no longer really at home in the Roman empire. Already they looked beyond it 
for support. When, therefore, in 614/ 1 5, Mor Daniel : Uzoyo, who had ruled Qartmin as 
abbot, was elevated to the dignity of metropolitan and set over Telia, Mardin, Dara and 
Tur Abdin, 29 we may see more than a chance parallel between this appointment and the 
position of the bishop of Mor Matthew, a Syrian Orthodox monastery above Mossul. 
The agreement of the patriarch Athanasius in 629 set the seal of legitimacy on an order 
already existing: the monastery of Mor Matthew received the primacy over the 
monasteries of Persia, its abbot was given the rank of chdrepiskopos and the title 'head 
of the abbots', the bishop-resident became metropolitan of the bishops of Assyria. 10 
We know that Mossul (by which we should understand 'Mor Matthew') had the leading 
part in filling the eastern bishoprics of the former Roman territories immediately after 
61 3. 11 It seems certain that Daniel, 'abbot and first bishop in the holy abbey of 
Qartmin', 32 was appointed by the metropolitan of Mossul, and that Mor Matthew 
provided the precedent for the situation of metropolitan authority in a monastery. It 
follows that Mossul sought in this way to extend its power westwards, by shifting both 
the episcopal see of Tur Abdin (previously in Hah) and the throne of the metropolitan 
to a monastic community which already felt itself bound by many ties to the East. That 
there may have been some opposition to Daniel's anomalous metropolitan title is 
suggested by the fact that Cyriac of Amida, writing early in the seventh century in the 
monastery of Psiltho near Telia, 33 lists the bishops appointed by Khusro as Samuel of 

• ' L. John of Telia, pp. 66-74, C *P- PP- 7 1-2: to the Persian general's question: 'How has such a man as 
yourself [sc. a bishop] dared to enter our territory without our knowledge? Do you not know this is another 
state Ipoliieidp* John replied, in Greek: 'This is not the first but the third time I have come (. . .] These days 
there is such peace between the kingdoms that 1 hardly consider them two different countries.' 

2 * L. Simeon of Olives, p. 235 (Dolabani, p. 148); summary, p. 178. 

29 Chr. Qartmin 819. AG 926. 10 Chr. Michael 119s, xi.4b, p. 412. 

Jl Chr, Michael U95. X.25C, p. 390. 

12 Book of Life. p. 6;cf. xxii.n-12. Daniel may have been an easterner himself, cf. Introduction, n. 55. 

31 Kugener (in Bibliotheque Hagiographique Orientale 111(1902) 2). followed by Brooks, PO tf.t (1923), 
pp. xiii-xiv, disputes Cyriac's authorship of the appendix to L. Jacob BaraJaeus 11. His grounds are 
insufficient: the colophon does not prove that Theodosius the Stylitc of Psiltho composed the text in 74 1 . since 
ethkthev ba*hjh\tutho rather suggests the mere copying (by a third party) of what had already been written 
(etlakhiav, eitstm); thus, we read in the colophon to L. Barsawmo in Br. Lib. Add. MS 1 4,734. fol. 1 74a (see 
Wright. MSS London, p. 1 148): 'It was copied at the instance [eihkaihbath b-yafifutho] of the priest 
Theodore.' Moreover. Theodosius expressly attributes it to Cyriac and. while that does not rule out the 

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156 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Gabriel once resuscitated a boy whom his mother believed to be dead in a tiny village 
called Sighun." The Chronicle of 819 reports that he 'gave life to a corpse and 
performed many other miracles*. 14 As time went on, he was credited with two other 
resurrections:" one, at Olin, was clearly inspired by the name of the village, which 
means 'they are mourning'; the other, at the Monastery of the Cross, may preserve a 
memory of the coming of Gabriel's relic in the year of the plague. The dedication of a 
church to M or Gabriel at Zaz, J6 near these two places, may be due to this development 
of the legend. By the thirteenth century it was normal to join his name to that of the 
Founders, Samuel and Simeon, as one of the three great saints of Qartmin;* 7 later still, 
Gabriel was singled out as 'the chief of the chosen ones* and by the end of the fifteenth 
century Qartmin was simply known as 'Mor Gabriel*, as it is still today." 

It was the custom of calling the abbey after three patron saints which gave the 
impetus for the compilation of the Qartmin Trilogy. 19 But, while the building records 
which are incorporated in that text, along with the foundation legend and a brief Life of 
Simeon, were available to the compiler of the Trilogy, he found very tittle material for 
Gabriel's Life at hand. He knew that he was from Beth Qusjan, north-east of Hah, 40 
and he knew the stories of his three resurrection miracles; but large parts of his narrative 
are adapted from John of Ephesus and other sources to fill what was clearly a painful 
gap.*' The problem is, to decide what part of the residue to retain and how to use it. 

We have already seen that the list of bishops present at Gabriel's funeral seems 
genuine and that the description of his jurisdiction as reaching from the Tigris to the 
Harbo corresponds with the metropolitan province for which Daniel had been or- 
dained. " The date of Gabriel's death and the summary of his career, which appear in 
the same passage of the Life, also have the circumstantial ring of a genuine record. He 
died on Tuesday 23 December, ag 979 (ad 667)* 3 and: 

The sum of the years of the life of Mor Gabriel was seventy-four. 
At fifteen, he became disciple under the yoke of the monastic life. 

" lxxix. 18-20, where the first person plural ('he told us') seems to echo an oral tradition; had the 
narrative been fictional, it would probably have made the mother of the boy a widow, in order to cast Gabriel 
as Elijah. (She actually does become a widow in Br. Lib. Add. MS 12.272 (of the thirteenth century) foil. 12a 
and 2 1 b.) This section of the Life 0/ Gabriel also contains interesting information about his visiting customs. 

** Chr. Qartmin 819, AG 945. 

" LXXVi.9-12; it is impossible to assess the truth-content of the writer's claim concerning the two 
'eyewitnesses", Joshua the Sophenian and Jacob of Arzan. 

54 Wiessner, Kulibauten, pp. 80-2, pis. 44-0. 
„ " °" e cxam P !e in a MS of tot 5 (cf. Ch. 3, n. 2) is (Br. Lib.) Add. (MS) 12,165: 'the great abbey of M(or] 
Gabjneljand of Mfor] Sam[uelj and MlorJSimleon)', but this is a later marginal note (the script is of the mid- 
fourteenth century; cf. Add. 18.741.fol. i95b);(Berlin MS) Sachau 351 (thirteenth century?): 'the holy abbey 
of M. Sim. and M. Sam. and M. Gab., of Qartmin'; Add. 14,737 ( 1 493): "the same holy abbey which is the 
monastery of M. Sam. and M. Sim. and M. Gab"; (Selly Oak MS) Mingana 400 (1585): 'Addai of Kfarbiya 
east of the monastery of Gab., Sim. and Sam' [emending 'Michael* in Mingana, MSS Birmingham, p, 713I; 
Mingana 466(1601): 'theabbey of M. Gab. and M. Sim. and M. Sam.'; Sachau 221 (1710): 'the monastery of 
M. Sam., M. Sim. and M. Gab.' 

" Br. Lib. Orient MS 1017 (of 1364): 'the holy abbey of Mor Samuel and Mor Simeon and that most 
exalted of all the chosen ones the victorious Mor Gabriel' and (in an obituary of the scribe, who died in the 
cave of Barsiqay below the abbey in 1394/5. one of many victims of the Mongol invasion): the monastery of 
Mor Samuel and Mor Simeon and that most exalted of chosen ones. Mor Gabriel'; Bodtey No 1 31 (of 1364) 
•the abbey of Mor Gabriel'; Bodley No. 68 (1626/7): 'the bishop of Mor Gabriel' 

" «- 1 3- 16-17. ao Cat. TA, 23 *■ See p. t6f. « See p. 154. « lxxxvti. 19-10. 

Mother of bishops 157 

At twenty, he became a deacon. 

At thirty-nine, he was made head of the brothers. 

At forty-five, he became priest, or presbyter. 

At sixty, he was ordained a bishop, and he sat on the episcopal throne for 14 years, 7 

months and 23 days. (LXXXVtii.3-9) 

That this record antedates the composition of the Life in its present form is clear from 
the disagreement with the fictional account of Gabriel's youth, where he is made a 
deacon in his village before becoming a monk. 64 Also, the later compiler misunder- 
stood the term 'head of the brothers', used here in its old sense of 'head of the unpriested 
monks', and assumed it meant 'abbot'. 41 But, while the curriculum vitae seems credible, 
something must be wrong with the date: 23 December 667 was not a Tuesday, nor was 
1 May 653 a Sunday, as required by the canons for the ordination of a bishop. 66 
Moreover, the Chronicle of 8 19 says that he became a bishop in 633/4. His not enough to 
mend 979 to 959, though that can easily be explained as a scribal corruption; 67 that 
would put his ordination five months before the beginning of the year in which Daniel 
died, 69 and 1 May 633 was, in any case, not a Sunday. But if we assume the original 
writer made an error and put 959 instead of 960 - an assumption which is strengthened 
by the fact that certain dates in John of Ephesus and in the Chronicle of 81 9 are a year 
too early 69 - then everything falls into place: 1 May 634 was a Sunday and 23 December 
648 was a Tuesday. What is more, the plague described in an Appendix to the Life, 
which was so devastating it killed thirty monks in one night at Qartmin, occurred 'about 
[30 years' after Gabriel's death (xci.4) and can thus be identified, thanks to the 
emended date of the latter, with the plague which raged in the black years of the two 
Musas, governors of Mesopotamia and of Syria c.770-5. 70 Denis, who must be 
Michael's authority here, describes no similar plague in the 790s. He agrees with the 
Chronicle ofZuqnin in saying the disease started in the head, whereas the Appendix to 
the Life of Gabriel says it attacked the throat: but the Zuqnin chronicler (an eyewitness) 
admits that it took many different forms. 7 ' The same author tells us that it raged in Tur 
Abdin in the summer of 774, destroying 95 monks at Qartmin and all the prominent 
members of the community at the Monastery of the Cross. 71 The gruesome and locally 
unprecedented exhumation of the corpse of Gabriel by the monks of Qartmin 73 thus 
finds a context which helps to explain it: Denis and the Chronicle of Zuqnin both 
describe the wave of grave-robbing (often very soon after burial, sometimes affecting 
ancient tombs of the pagans) which swept north-eastern Mesopotamia in c.773-4 as a 
consequence of over-taxation. 74 

To return, therefore, to the record of Gabriel's funeral: we can accept it in all 
essentials, including the summary of his career, as genuine. He was born in 573/4; 
he became a monk in 588/9 and a deacon in 593/4, both at the earliest possible age; in 

** Lxrv. 16; modelled on LL. Eastern Saints, p. (424): 'he also became a Son of the Covenant in his village'. 

** See p. 94. •* L. John of Telia, p. 53. 

* 7 If the numbers were originally represented by letters, NUN (50) could be mistaken for 'E (70). 

** Daniel probably died on 9 December 633; see p. 154. ** See p. xviii. 

70 Chr. Zuqnin 775. pp. 353f (Chabot. pp. 176-83). 

" Chr. Michael 1195, xi.26a. p. 477; Chr. Zuqnin, p. 359 [Chabot. p. 1 79). 

T: Chr. Zuqnin, p. 368 [Chabot. p. 186]. " Life 0/ Gabriel, section 24. 

T * CAr. Zuqnin 775, pp. 264C 32of (Chabot, pp. 147-78, 183-5I; Chr. Michael 7/95, xi.26a, pp. 476-7. 

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160 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

after Gabriel's death and was subsequently revived on the corpse of the saint (Life of 
Gabriel, section 24 (lxxxvth. 1 3 f)). Now, Simeon became bishop of Harran in 700 (ac 
1 1 1 , '32 years', as the interpolator says (lxxxix. 16-17), after the supposed date of the 
funeral, ag 979) and died in 734. He might well have been about twenty in 667, but it is 
unlikely that he was more than an infant in 648, if indeed he was already born. The 
scribe inserted a summary of his life with a couple of extracts from the Chronicle of 
846,* 1 which had not been used by the previous redactor of the Trilogy, by the simple 
expedient of identifying Simeon with this young man. That this identification was made 
so late is shown by the thirteenth-century commemoration service of Gabriel in Br. Lib. 
MS Add. 17,272. where the story of the young deacon is told (fol. 56) without mention 
of Simeon. 

The temptation to bring Simeon into direct relation with Gabriel (as Ignatius of 
Antioch, for instance, had been identified with the boy chosen by Christ as an example 
of humility in Chapter 18 of Matthew's Gospel"), was made the stronger by Simeon's 
fame as a saint in his own right. He was certainly one of the most prominent men of his 
generation in the Syrian Orthodox church. Michael's Chronicle preserves the record of 
his presence with only four other Syrian bishops at the important synod of Mantzikert 
in 726, by which was cemented the paradoxical union of the Syrians with the Arme- 
nians. 9 * The Chronicle of 8 19 (followed with less detail by the Chronicle of 846) tells us 
that he was a monk of Qartmin; that he was made bishop of Harran in 699/700; that he 
used funds from the treasury of Qartmin to build a church for the (Syrian) Orthodox 
inside the city of Nisibis, a church which was twice rebuilt after Nestorians and Jews 
destroyed it, but was at last finished and consecrated by Simeon and the patriarch 
Julian in 706/7; that he died on Thursday 3 June 734, and was succeeded on the throne 
of Harran by Thomas, his disciple, also a monk of Qartmin." The Chronicle ofZuqnin 
knows him as a contemporary of Theodotos of Amida (d. 698), the patriarch Elijah (d. 
724) and Constantine of Edessa (d. 734/5), and mentions all these together in 720/ 1 and 
again in 728/9 (sic). 9 * The Calendar ofTur Abdin commemorates him on 3 January 
('Simeon of Harran') and again on the day of his death, 3 June ('Mor Simeon of the 
Olives, bishop of Harran, son of Mundar of Habsenus'). The interpolator of the Life of 
Gabriel, knowing the Calendar and the Chronicle of 846, needed only to know the name 
of the church in Nisibis (Mor Theodore) and its position (inside the East Gate) and to 
have heard that Simeon also built the mosque to the south of it, in order to be able to 
write section 25 of that Life. 

There exists, however, a much more detailed account of Simeon's life, though in a 

" Chr. Qartmin 3t9 and Chr. Harran- 846 may both have been used: only the former has ihe dale for 

ofT^^r^' S- ( . AC ,. ,0 Ji" th ? U , gh ^/ alS ° in L Sin * on *°"*»> and ° nlv * hc tatler 1»» '»« synod 

Nisibis. though wiihout the name or any mention of the mosque to the south of it; both relate that the 
patriarch Julian came to consecrate it. 

2 f^wV'; 1 "* "** ' ,8nacc <saint) ' ivi( * w d'Antioche, martyr'. coU. 685-0. 
94 Chr. Michael 1/95, xi.20c. p. 459, J 

err^r. fo^on^' 9 ' AG '°"' '°' 8, ,045;cfCAr 'V*™' 846.AG 1018. 1045. writing Simeon' again, in 

JHe.2Z -ST?*. 7 "' ft '*?' l64 :f: p - ' S5 I 0111501 - PP- '4, r8; cf. p. 1 r]; the author may have been 
con usmg Theodotos of Am.daw:,h hi) namesake. Theodotos of Germaniceia, who died in 737/8 (Chr. 
Qartmin 819= Chr. Harran 846, AC 1049). 

Mother of bishops 161 

debased form which demands the most critical analysis. It seems to derive from an early 
source with some title to authority. Further work has to be done on the manuscripts of 
this Life of Simeon of the Olives; 9 ' 1 but it is so important for the history of Tur c Abdin in 
our period that a first attempt must be made here to evaluate it and to trace its 
development. At this stage 1 must restrict myself to the manuscript which I was shown 
in Mardin and which proves to have been the exemplar used for the drastically edited 
version in Dolabani's History ofQarfmin," itself the basis for the only summary yet 
published in Europe.* 9 The text was written in [916 in very poor Syriac, with occasional 
lapses into the modern dialect. l0 ° The scribe refers to an Arabic version of the Life of 
Simeon (no doubt that preserved in Berlin) from which he made his abridged narrative 
of Simeon's supposed success at the court of al-Ma'mun in Baghdad. 101 The true 
context of the story is the early ninth century and the original hero was Theodore Abu 
Qurra; in the Arabic version, perhaps as a ruse on the part of a Syrian Orthodox author 
to appropriate this Melkite hero, Simeon was identified with the famous Abu Qurra. It 
is probable that this Arabic version has infected the text in other places, too; the bad 
Syriac suggests considerable rewriting. 

But the Arabic derived from an older Syriac text. Rabban Gabriel, the nephew of 
Bishop John of Qartmin, a native of Beth Svirina and a binder at Qartmin Abbey, 
appended a note to the text and, although the date was faultily copied, we are almost 
certainly able to identify him with a monk who was alive in 1 1 68/9. ' ° 2 This Gabriel says 
that he copied the Life in Harran, together with a special service and husoyo for Simeon 
of the Olives, and brought it from there to Qartmin. 101 Yet the original author was a 
monk of Qartmin: his pride in and preoccupation with the abbey pervade the text. He 
was also a native of Simeon's village Habsenus, every stone of which he knows. 
He happens to mention that all Habsenusites are quick-witted and good at learning! 

° T MS 9/ 1 6 of the Syrian Orthodox patriarchate in Damascus contains, according to the Arabic catalogue 
(on which see A. Palmer. OC 73 (1989), n. 1 1): The story of Mar Simeon al-Zaytunf amongst other 
hagiographical texts (the present patriarch made a search for this book on two separate occasions for my sake 
without success); cf. Fiey, Nisibe ( 1 977), p. 72 n. 38 1 . Paris, syr. 375 contains the same text on foil. ! 523-2 iOa, 
according to Briqucl-Chatonnet, Mus $S (1985), pp. 95-102. 

* * Dolabam, History of Qartmin ( 1 959), pp. 1 25-00; the relationship is clear enough, and is confirmed by 
the fact that parts of this MS have been restored in Dolabani's hand. The number ofthe MS in the church of 
the Forty Martyrs at Mardin is 8.259, and the text is on pp. 203-47. 

M S.P. Brock, 0;rfc.&., 28 (1979), pp. 174-82; Barsawm published a summary in Arabic in the Patriarchal 
Review (Syrian Orthodox) of 1934, pp. 34-7, which is presumably based on the Damascus MS referred to in n. 
97 above. 10 ° e.g. p. 222: lu jam? 'to the mosque'; p. 228: w-fash 'and he stayed*. 

101 Berlin MS Sachau 87.2 (Sachau. MSS Berlin, pp. 758-61); on pp. 2i5-i6of the Mardin MS the scribe 
copies not only the Arab names of Simeon/Abu Qurra 's debating partners, but also a number of Arabic 
words in Garshuni. 

l " Book of Life, in Barsawm, TA, p. 93 (ag 1480): a conscientious bookbinder called Rabban Gabriel of 
Beth Svirina, "son of ihe brother of Mor John, bishop of the Abbey [sc. of Qartmin]'; compare the colophon of 
Mardin MS 8.259 on P- 2 47 : 'Pray for Rabban Gabriel, son ofthe brother ofMor John, bishop of the Abbey 
(*e. of Qartmin], from the family of Beth Pa|riq in Beth Svirina. who brought this story and the commemora- 
tive office and husoyo about Mor Simeon of the Olives (to the abbey]; he copied them in Harran and brought 
them to the abbey in the year t<..> 5 of the Greeks.' After this comes a note by a later copyist: This Rabban 
Gabriel and his brother Rabban Elisha were very conscientious in the service ofthe abbey. In their time they 
repaired 270 bound volumes in the abbey besides much else.' There was indeed a John of Beth Svirina who 
was bishop of Qartmin in the twelfth century (Chr. Michael nay Register xliv. p. 767; INSCR. B.13; 
Barsawm, TA , p. 52; Book of Life, p. 3) and the Book of Life calls him 'Bar Patriq' (loc. crt.); see also A. Palmer, 
OC 73 (1989), with n. 20 there. l< " See n. 102 above. 

1 62 Mother of bishops 

He also names a priest and a rector (rish H(d)to) of Habsenus. Prima facie, therefore 
the colophon, stating that the Life was written by Simeon's great-nephew Job of 
Habsenus, a monk (of Qartmin?) resident at the (dependent) monastery of Mor Abhay 
m Beth Man'em, has credibility. The various anachronisms, inconsistencies and unbe- 
lievable statements which are scattered through the text can be explained as accretions 
acquired during its journey to Harran and back or even later. 

Only one anomaly seems to endanger the attribution of a historical kernel of the Life 
of Simeon of the Olives to Job of Habsenus: it concerns his uncle, Simeon's nephew 
David. David plays an important role in the early part of the story, revolving around a 

to Beth Man'em. At the end he is said to have been ordained bishop of Harran in 
Simeon's lifetime by Simeon himself.'" Leaving aside the objections that bishops are 
made by election, not designation, and that at least three bishops must be present to 
ordain a fourth, we encounter the excellent evidence of the Chronicle of 819 that 
Simeon 's successor at Harran was his disciple Thomas, who also attended the synod of 
Arbin in the next year (735/6) and died in 737/8. He is commemorated in the Calendar of 
Tur Abdm on 5 July. The Chronicle of 846 is very well instructed about the bishops of 
Harran; it also knows nothing of a bishop David in the eighth century. There existed a 
David, monk of Qartmin and bishop of Harran. He is commemorated in the Calendar 
on4 February. But he was ordained between 846 and 873 l0S Most probably, one of the 
tetcr redactors, seeing that there had been a Bishop David of Harran who was from 
Qartmin Abbey, jumped to the conclusion that he was identical with Simeon's nephew 
and edited him into the text in the unconvincing way we have observed. Thus Job's 
authority can be salvaged, if he merits it. 

He does merit it, on three main counts. First, the village of Anhel emerges in the Life 
as the secular capital of Tur Abdin, sca t of a ruling Melkite 'dynasty* of local governors 
a state of affairs which fits very well into the world described by the late seventh-century 
Life of Theodotos of Amida; Abraham and Lazarus are named as leaders', who sent a 
work-force to rebuild the castle of Tur Abdin in 683/4 under the supervision of Simeon; 
Oeorge, the son of Lazarus, of Anhel, who 'was brought up in the West with the 
Romans and had little faith in our local saints', was nevertheless persuaded to lend 
Simeon 300 workmen to build the church in Nisibis, finished in 706/7; Gabriel of Anhel 
on the other hand, was an opponent of Simeon over the election of a certain bishop' 
apparently Lazarus of Tur Abdin (attested in 735 and 740); Moses of Anhel was a 
Syrian 1 Orthodox writer of the time who praised the fame of Simeon (he may well have 
been the Moses of Tur <Abdin' with whom Jacob of Edessa (d. 708) corresponded ' •• 

cM.!» C0 r e ^ ,OnS k^ thcSe men must ** made ^ conjecture: George's father was 
surely the Lazarus active in 683/4. But the overall picture is convincing, and totally 

'" cJ^Xh^u P-J^^ta"!. P '54. modifying ihc text); summary, p. 178. 

io* 7 e- " 4 Efr Chr Mtchael "»• Raster xix.26, p. 756. 
patriarch ZZu^tV' ^J'* 3 **^*™ »• «0>. P »* George of B'eltan (the eighth-century 
£ £ S£Lw * Gndudue, pp. 269-70) also knew this letter (ef. OC 2 (1902). p. 442): 'Again in his 

of t£ -a£27 « .' !? '• P ; ' 5 o • WhenCC LeQuieB » 0riens Christianus. n (1790). p. 1 528. 'Rumi.leader 

££o?S £E2? R±?T l fm Z S {XS P 7) ** thc ** W*U he Ly be G bne.'s 
>ui^cssor 1 nc name means Roman , which would suit a Melkite well. 

Mother of bishops 163 

unexpected. Nothing else is known about the early history of Anhel, but the church of 
Mor Cyriac could well be of the eighth century. 107 

The second strong point in favour of this text is the mention of 'Mor Zcchariah and 
Mor Cyril, brothers, of the village of Aynwardo', among the disciples of Simeon. 108 An 
inscription of 776/7 at Qartmin, engraved by Cyril of Aynwardo, relates how Zecha- 
riah of Aynwardo undertook to produce the stone kneading-trough on which the 
inscription stands, but had to give up because of his age and handed the work over to his 
shawshbino Isaiah of Fofyath. 10 * Simeon died in 734. If his disciples were in their 
twenties then, they would have been in their late sixties when the trough was finished. 
The interval is appropriate and explains how Zcchariah in the course of seven or eight 
years* work on the stone, which he had quarried in Beth Debeh, grew too old to 
supervise the arduous job of transporting it to Qartmin, fourteen miles away across 
rough country. 110 

Thirdly, in relating the deliberations of the synod which met in 700 to elect a 
successor to Elijah bar Guphne, bishop of Harran, our author names the bishops 
Thomas and Theodotos as supporters of Simeon. l ' l The Theodotos in question was a 
friend from youth of the patriarch Julian and therefore cannot have been Theodotos of 
Amida, who in any case died in 698; * ' : it was perhaps Theodotos of Germaniceia, who 
died in 737/8. UJ But Bishop Thomas is almost certainly the Amidene prelate of that 
name whom the Chronicle ofZuqnin records as present at the synod of Mor Shilo in 705/ 
6.' '* As for Mor Isaiah of Nisibis, who, our author says, shared the supervision of the 
first building of the church of Mor Theodore in his city with Simeon of the Olives, 1 ' s he 
is unknown, like Elijah of Harran; Mor John of Tur Abdin, the predecessor of Lazarus, 
is also otherwise unknown."* But it is unlikely that a later imaginative writer would 
have invented these names. It would be more like those fraudulent but unsubtle monks 
of the Middle Ages to invent connections with well-known figures of that time. 

In addition to the above. Job (as we may with confidence call him) offers a credible 
explanation of Simeon's sobriquet, 'of the Olives*: 1 17 Simeon had charge of a monas- 
tery near the ruined Persian city of Serwan on the plain of Beth Araboye; this 
monastery belonged to Qartmin Abbey (as did another on Mount Singara); Simeon 
imported 12,000 olive-trees and planted them in the well-watered lands he bought 
around the monastery; he surrounded them with a wall, a fence of reeds and a ring of 
thorns and hired workmen and ploughmen to tend them; the trees bore fruit after only 

101 Wicssner. Kuttbauten, pp. 212-23: similarities with the eighth-century (or earlier) church of Mor 
Cyriac at Arnas. In 1986 the priest of Anhel told me that the church was built by Simeon of the Olives! 

I0 * L. Simeon of Olives, p. 243 [Dolabani, p. 157I; summary, p. 179, lM INSCR. A.6. 

' I0 Socin. ZDMG 35 (1881). p. 262: *von b&dibbi 4 st. oord nach dir 'omer; Pognon, Inscriptions, p. 43. 
found it difficult to imagine what was meant by thc phrase men d-asev, 'from the moment when he aged'. 

"' L. Simeon of Olives, p. 225 [Dolabani, p. 139: incomplete); summary, p. 177. 

1 ' 2 This detail was not in Dolabani, so Brock, Ostk. Si. 28 (1979), p. 181 n. 44, assumed an anachronistic 
identification with Theodotos of Amida. ' l * See n. 96 above. 

114 Chr. Zuqnin 77J, p. 155 [Chabot, p. 1 1]. '" L. Simeon of Olives, p. 219. 

"* L. Simeon of Olives, p. 233 (Dolabani. p. 145I; summary, p. 177. 

1 lT Independently attested in Berlin MS Sachau 349. fol. 158b (Sachau. AfSS Berlin, pp. 43-51). which 
contains an impersonal form of service to be used on the feasts of Simeon of the Olives and of Mor Lazarus; 
Sachau estimated the age of this MS as tenth or eleventh century and said it came from Tur Abdin (perhaps 
from the monastery of Mor Lazarus founded by Simeon near Hab5«nus). 


164 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

five years (growers assure me this is unusual); the olives were not beaten down with 
sticks but picked up off the ground by monks and transported to Qartmin, where they 
were pressed; the oil thus produced provided for lighting in the abbey and was sold 
throughout Jur Abdin. This was a great success, because the plateau is too dry for 
olive-growing. 116 

Job also tells us the unobvious fact that Simeon, in converting Manichees, pagans 

and Jews in the region of Harran, instructed these last not to slaughter kids on 

Sundays. "» He gives the names of disciples of Simeon and scribes of his time, too exact 

to be invented, as well as referring by its title to the Chronicle of Jacob of Edessa, 

presented by Simeon, along with more than 180 books, to the library of Qartmin. 1 " 

Particularly impressive and important for our theme is his catalogue of the buildings 

and profitable investments made by Simeon in Nisibis and elsewhere on behalf of 

Qartmin. 121 The abbey was already a rich landowner; so much is evident, though we 

had no hint of it before in the history of the seventh century. By using its capital to build 

monasteries and churches in Nisibis, each endowed with mills, gardens, orchards, inns, 

bath-houses and so on, and by binding these establishments to send excess funds back 

into the coffers of Qartmin, he laid the foundations of the abbey's eighth-century 

prosperity. He also endowed it with villages, lands, mills and shops in many places; and 

he turned his opportunities as a bishop to the advantage of Qartmin. Nor did he forget 

his own village, Habsenus. "" He rebuilt the church there, founded a school and (re?-) 

founded a monastery of Mor Lazarus to the south of the village. (At this point a later 

writer has interpolated the statement that Simeon built the round hermits' tower which 

is in that monastery; an inscription shows, however, that it was not built until 790/1 . » 2i ) 

Like the interpolator of the Life of Gabriel, one might add: 'There is much more that 

could be said about this Mor Simeon of the Olives'. ' 2 * To the chroniclers of 8 19 and 846 

with their respective Qartminite and Harranite sympathies, he was the most important 

agent in establishing once more a 'western' Christian foothold in the city of Nisibis, 

which had been Persian since 363 and remained predominantly Nestorian. They do not 

make explicit the symbolism of Simeon's achievement, but in telling us that the 

patriarch Julian II (688-708) was present to consecrate in person the cathedral of the 

martyr Theodore, they reveal the significance that was attached to it. We may believe 

Job of Habsenus when he tells us that choice marble was brought overland from a 

Mediterranean port for its altar {'8 spans by 4 spans') and for the base of the bima 12 ' 

(an architectural feature which is found once only in Tur Abdin' 2 *). Its structure 

imitated that of ancient buildings, the walls being of hewn stone blocks, bricks and 

cement, the roof of great wooden beams. Julian, who so memorably crushed the 

III r* 1*!™°" KSH! 9 "' PP 2IO ~" I Dolaba "". PP '30-iJ: summary, pp. 175-6. 

!•• / % unean vOHvts, p. 232 [Dolabani. p, 143]; summary, p. 177. 

( m L*t~T e ° n f 0liv "' PP; 2 39-40 (especially noteworthy are the calligraphcr Daniel of Kcndirib and the 

(miniature-) painters and scribes of the monastery of Kfar Tcvno at Harran; the MS of Jacob of Edeoa's 

Chronicle was illustra.ed) [Dolabani, p. 153]; summary, p. 1 78. oicaessas 

L. Simeon °f Olives, pp. 213-14. 217-23. 140 (Dolabani, pp. 133-8]; summary, pp. 176-7. 

L Simeon ofOhves pp. 238-^ [Dolabani, pp. t5 t-2|; summary, p. 178. ' » INSCR. A.9. 

|M xc -4-5- '*' L. Simeon of Olives, p. 218. 

li.url^r a« : ,1™'?""^ C^^feriodica 34 (1968). pp. 326-59; the bima features in the cathedral 
Jturgy of Am.da as described m L Theodotos. foil. 640.1. 650.3: the bishop stands there to preach. For the 
oima at Kfarze, see p. 1 35. 

Mother of bishops 165 

insubordinate Denho, metropolitan of Tagrit, in the monastery of Mor Matthew, 137 
no doubt saw this church as a symbol of his legitimate historical claim to primacy over 
the East. The whole event shows the same deceptive confidence and the same craving 
for the symbols of a return to the old order as the dramatic action of Julian's successor, 
Elijah (709/24). who, in the last year of his life, became the first 'Orthodox* patriarch to 
enter Antioch since the exile of Severus and sealed the deed with the consecration of a 
new church, thus strengthening the case of his church to be treated as the Orthodox 
Church under the caliphate. 128 

3. The cultural and political context 

The Life ofTheodotos of Amida is also important for the history of Tur "Abdin. The 
historical credentials of this biography are good. There is no reason to doubt the 
endnote, which tells us that it was written down by the priest-cantor Simeon of 
Samosata as it was related to him by the priest Joseph. 129 Joseph, being the disciple of 
Theodotos, was an eyewitness to most of the events he describes. Some linguistic and 
stylistic features point to a process of dictation, in which the scribe systematically 
changed Joseph's Ichbericht into the third person; at one point a remark of the scribe 
intrudes: 'Here he tells that Theodotos* disciple was a monk of Zuqnin and that it was he 
who used to carry his letters for him.' 130 

In spite of the numerous miracles, the biography seems firmly rooted in a real but 
unfamiliar historical context. Yet the 'stage' is not 'set* in terms of recognizable 
historical landmarks; the Arab conquest is not mentioned except allusively and no 
names of Byzantine emperors, Muslim caliphs or Arab prefects are mentioned. The 
geography, although the routes described are by no means familiar ones, is accurate. 
The implied position of the Arab-Byzantine frontier at an uncertain date between 680 
and 690 tallies with what is known of this unstable factor at that time. "■ 3 1 A governor of 
Samosata in the same period is named as Elusjriya (Illustrios) of Harran. m Now, 
reliable chronicles tell of a Byzantine invasion of the Samosata region under Tiberius 
Apsimar (698-705), in which many captives were taken, 1 " and of the action taken by 
Tiberius' successor, Justinian II, 'the Noseless', in setting free 'Elustriya son of 'Araq of 
Harran' and 6,000 Arab captives at his accession in 705; ' 34 there can be little doubt that 
he intended thus to undo his hated predecessor's work, and that this Elusfriya was the 
governor of Samosata mentioned in the Life of Theodotos. 

Michael's Chronicle (based here on the contemporary Jacob of Edessa) tells us that 
most of the cities and regions of Mesopotamia in the late seventh century were still 
governed by Christians. 1 " This fact is to be attributed to the need for continuity in 

117 Chr. Michael 119$, XI.23C. pp. 469-70. •>» Abramowski, Dionyshu, p. 92. 

'» L. Theodotos. fol. 680,3. ,)0 *• Theodotos, fol. 6ob.2. 

1,1 L. Theodotos. fol. 62b. 1-2 (travelling from Claudia, where a (Byzantine) raid is expected, to Lake Hure 
(Anzitene). where the Byzantine castles arc getting ready to meet an (Arab) raiding party); cf. Lilie, Die 
byzantmische Reaktionaufdie Ausbreitung der Araber(i<ff6), p. 72 (Melitene in Byzantine hands in 668). p. 89 
(instability of frontier and uncertainty as to fate of cities), p. 1 12 (Melitene in Byzantine hands in or before 
695), p. 134: Map 'Die arabischen Einfalle nach KJetnasien 680-720 a.d.' 

'" L. Theodotos. fol. 6ia.2. »" e.g. Chr. Michael 119$, Xl.l6a, p. 448. 

IU Chr. Edessa 1234, p. 298; cf. Chr. Michael iioj, 10.173, p. 450. 

'** Chr. Michael 119s. xi.i6a. p. 449. 

1 66 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

provincial administration during the long period of the Arabs' apprenticeship in 
empire. In Persian territory, where these things are better documented, the conquerors 
took over existing arrangements and entrusted their execution to the same local 
aristocracies that had governed under the Sassanids. U6 They only insisted that tribute 
be paid in full; but even this tribute was assessed along the lines of the Iranian taxation 
system. lJ7 In Roman territory, Byzantine currency and the Greek language persisted in 
official usage until, respectively, 696/7 (Michael) and 710/ 1 1 . li8 InTheodotos' lifetime, 
therefore, Greek-speaking scribes, accountants and tax-collectors were needed to run 
the provinces of the upper Tigris and Euphrates basins. These were doubtless Melkites, 
that is, members of the group that had followed the imperial church of Byzantium in 
matters of dogma during the sixth and early seventh centuries. They held the reins of 
local government when the Arabs arrived and they had the best opportunity for 
acquiring an education in Byzantine administrative skills. It is thus perfectly congruent 
that the governor of Tur Abdin in the last years of the seventh century was a Melkite, as 
the Life of Simeon of the Olives plainly implies. « i9 Elustriya of Harran, with his Greco- 
Roman name, reminiscent of high Byzantine titulalure, and with his Christian, but 
anti-Orthodox, tax-collector, Sergius, was surely another of these Melkite governors. 
The majority of those placed under him were Syrian Orthodox, so it is no surprise to 
find that his local representative in the region of Claudia, who was no doubt a 
landowner responsible for the timely submission of tribute and the general good order 
of his neighbourhood, was John of Singis, a Syrian Orthodox. 140 As Orthodox bishop 
of Amida, Theodotos was obliged to forbid his clergy to take up such a secular post, 
whether as epitropos, like John, or as salaro {sakellariosl), or whatever. 1 *' It is 
significant that the officers have Greek names in Syriac: even the governors are called 
arkhune = arkhontes, although the official term would have been hegemdn. 1 * 2 

This state of affairs was naturally accompanied by much ambivalence in the 
relationships between Syrian Orthodox and Melkites, Melkites and Arabs, Arabs and 
Syrian Orthodox, and between all these parties and the Byzantines. (Nestorians from 
the former Persian territories were also infiltrating Mesopotamia at this time, much to 
Theodotos' indignation; but their numbers were small.) Thus we find Theodotos in 
correspondence with the commanders of the Byzantine castles by Lake Hure (Hazar 
G61Q) on the northern side of the Ergani pass; l4i but when he visits them and is begged 
by them to use his prayers to ward off an Arab invasion by the dreaded GYDR (read 
•Jandar', 'Jandar? 144 ), he extracts first an undertaking that they will not intimidate the 
local peasants, who were Syrian Orthodox, into renouncing their opposition to the 
Byzantine church. 14 * No doubt because of these contacts, Theodotos was later sus- 
pected by the Arab governor of Amida (in which city alone of those visited by 

iii ^ cnncU - Conversion, p. 14. u» Dcnnctl, Conversion, pp. [4, 17. 

Chr. Michael tip, xi :&,, p. 447. xu 7 b. p. 451: A.A. Dun, EI* 11 (1965). p. 324: cf. P. Grierson, 
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 3 (i960), pp. 241-64. 

"• I. Simeon ofOtWes. p. 219 (Dolabani. p. 136]; summary, p. 176; note also that the governor ofTur 
Abdtn m 750/ 1 was called Rumi, 'ihc Roman' (see Introduction, n. 20). 
l *° L. Theodotos. fol. 62a. 3 : 'John, epitropos of Claudia 1 . ««>£,. Theodotos, fol. 65a 2 

According to J.R. Martmdaie (personal communication). i*> /,. Theodotos, fol. 60b 2. 

r vn D u namcs are hstcd in the ' ndex to Tabari, No evidence of an Arab name corresponding to 

GYDR has come to my attention. '*» L. Theodotos fol 62b 2 

Mother of bishops 1 67 

Theodotos we encounter a 'garrison' of Arab horsemen) of collusion with the enemy; he 
was subjected to a violent interrogation in the city mosque, which nearly provoked a 
riot in Amida, because he had just been chosen for ordination as its bishop. 146 Yet he 
had previously been taken for a spy on behalf of the Arabs by thieves in the mountains 
south of the river Arsenias, who threatened to deliver him over to the Byzantines in 
Anzitene. 147 As bishop of Amida, he organized a public collection from 'Mhagroye' 
(Arabs) and Christians alike to buy off some raiders (perhaps Mardaites). 143 His 
jurisdiction over the generality of Christians in Amida was confirmed by the highest 
Arab authority in Northern Mesopotamia (here called 'the holder of authority in all the 
East'). 14 * 

The governor of Tur Abdin was a wounded veteran of the Arab attack on Nisibis in 
639: • 50 this is the only allusion in the Life of Theodotos to the Arab conquest itself. We 
read there: 'Now the governor had received an arrow-wound in the battle against the 
Arabs when they attacked Nisibis'.' S1 He had fought on the Byzantine side, it seems, 
yet now he was governing Tur Abdin for the Arabs. The governor of Dara was another 
Elustriya. l " He, too, seems to have been a Melkite, though Theodotos' biographer is 
tactfully silent about his denomination; for he was nonetheless a benefactor of the 
Syrian Orthodox church. Like the unnamed governor of Tur Abdin, 153 he was 
impressed by genuine sanctity, even if it came from the wrong side. He struck a bargain 
with Theodotos, that the holy man would stay in the province of Dara provided that the 
mo nastery he chose to stay in should pay no taxes to the 'king* (caliph): ' I shall pay them 
out of my own house as long as you live*, ' 54 promised Elustriya, thus demonstrating (to 
us) that he was only required to collect the right amount of tribute, no matter by what 
means. Later, Elustriya invited Theodotos to build a new monastery near that of Mor 
Abay above Qeleth on the site, as Theodotos maintained, of the original monastic 
settlement and martyrium. 1 5 5 Almost certainly it was the daughter of this Elustriya who 
became a benefactress in her own right (this alone shows a certain debt to Greco- 
Roman aristocratic traditions) of the abbey of Qartmin. Her name, characteristically, 
was Patricia; 1 J6 the same name is found on a funereal inscription of 760 commemorat- 
ing 'My Lady Mary daughter of Lazarus, the son of Petruno, and daughter of Patricia, 
the daughter of QND YTS (Kandidatos?), from Dara'. 157 The two Patricias cannot 
have been the same; but the benefactress of Qartmin thought it sufficient to have her 
own and her father's names inscribed without any further title or identification, a 
confidence which implies great eminence. This fact, as well as the extreme rarity of the 
name, points to Theodotos' friend, the governor of Dara. The letter-forms confirm an 
eighth-century date; and it would be surprising to find such a hellenized aristocracy 
surviving in Dara beyond the later years of that century. Elustriya of Dara, in spite of 

L. Theodotos* fol. 64b. 3. 

'** L. Theodotos, fol. 64a.2. l *~ L. Theodotos* fol. 63a.!. 
'** L. Theodotos. fol. 653.3. 

1.0 L. Theodotos, fol. 63b. 1 ; this date is given (against Batadhuri and Khwarizmi) by E. Honigmann. f / 111 
(1936). p. 928. '»' loc.cii. '» toc.cit. 

1.1 toe. cit.: 'Then that arkhon said, "Behold in truth a disciple of Christ, behold a blessed one among 

1,4 loc. cit.; the word 'tax' is represented here equally by madatho (the ancient Akkadian word madatu) and 
gzitho{** Arabic Jizya). l " L. Theodotos, M. 66b.y "* WSCR. C.i. 
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174 Monk and mason on (he Tigris frontier 

He was the enemy of Sandloyo until the death of Marwan deprived him of his main 
support; then he became his friend.- 12 

It seems likely that the capital of Tur Abdin under Bishop Cyriac was once more 
Hah; a precedent is always sought in the historical tradition, especially when the real 
motive js innovation. In 1088/9, when the diocese was permanently divided according 
to the precedent set by Sandloyo, one bishop was at Qartmin and the other, the bishop 
of Tur Abdin, was at Hah. 213 Syrian Orthodox bishops loved to reside in monasteries 
and it seems that the Monastery of the Cross in Beth El, some two and a half hours' walk 
away from Hah to the north, was chosen for this purpose. 11 * Cyriac is named as 'our 
bishop* in an inscription dated 75(3?) at $alah. 2lJ He was present as bishop of Jur 
Abdin at the synod of Mabbugh in 758/9, when the patriarch George was elected.* 2 ! « 
He appears with the date 760/ r in an inscription at Arnas. 2 1 7 At some time between 767 
and 775, that is during the illegitimate patriarchate of David, 'the holy Mor Cyriac' 
persuaded the anti-patriarch to imprison at Harran a self-styled prophet from Hah 
whom his followers called 'Mor Morutho': 2 '* he was only a deacon, reports' the 
contemporary Chronicle of Zuqnin, yet he sat on a throne and consecrated the Chrism 
with his spittle. Even from behind bars the 'false prophet* continued to influence a vast 
crowd. Considering the behaviour of the bishops at this time, it is not surprising that 
such a preacher was able to set the people against their bishop, even to make them 'wish 
to kill him\ 2 "> The date of Cyriac's death is not recorded, but an inscription at the 
Monastery of the Cross shows that he had a successor, S(ovo?), who was alive between 
775. when the patriarch George was released from prison, and 790, when George 
died. 220 Itts uncertain when the diocese was reunited; probably shortly after 775 when 
George tried to set the church in order after the turbulent reigns of the rebel patriarchs 
At Qartmin a Bishop George is attested in 776/7" ' and a Bishop Michael in 784/5 2 " 
both by inscriptions; but whether they were bishops of the abbey alone or of Tur Abdin 
as a whole is not stated. 2 " In any case, by the time the official Register of ordinations 
opens in 793, there is no separate episcopate of Qartmin. 22 * 

5. Monastic rivalries 

The death of Athanasius Sandloyo in 758 was followed by the election of George a 
monk of great learning and wisdom - though as yet he was only a deacon - from the 

4,1 Chr. Michael //05, XI.22C, p. 466. 

1,4 Pognon. Inscriptions, pp, 48. uo-'i; Barsawm. TA, p 50 

»* wsS. c ": * 2 " r,VSCR B ' : " Chr Zuqnin m - p j,j fChabo, « p fo i 

, JJ-7 hC ? W ° f M °™ lh ?' '**F*}y ro * « Chr. Qartmin 8i 9 , AC .074 - Chr. 'Harran' 846 AG i[o8i]; 

lt " Chr. Zuqnin 775, pp. 282-9 [Chabot, pp. 1 17-22). 

110 On Ihis and the following, see the Appendix, section L 

141 ISSCR. A.6. «- ISSCR. A.8. 

Si.h« P T k n mh ;7 ,rc,cd a P hraM in '***■ C-2 asa reference to thenar.' orcouncil ofan eighth-century Abraham (Wvn^p^^); my ^^ for doubling (hjs m ^ jn QQ (l $~'£ y 

fromth^lT™ o^ 

Renter xvu [ordained] in the same monastery of the Pillarjat Kallinikasr (CAr Michael 1195, 

Mother of bishops 1 75 

abbey of Qenneshre. 22 ' The patriarchate thus returned to the monastery which had 
dominated it, with the exception of two reigns, from 591 to 708."* That the election of 
George was seen in terms of monastic rivalries is shown by the rumour to which the 
Chronicle of Zuqnin attributes the desertion of the Mesopotamian bishops, especially 
the Qartminites, from the synod which met to elect him: George had vowed to erase the 
very memory of Qartmin Abbey and of the monastery founded by Athanasius 
Sandloyo from the face of the earth. 227 George himself recalled that Theodore, the 
bishop of Samosata, with whom he lived as synketlos, had prophesied his elevation, 
adding: 'Give your attention to the abbey where you were educated, for it has become 
weak'. 228 This remark would seem to refer to the failure of Qenneshre to prevent the 
successes of Qartmin through the political manoeuvres of Sandloyo. Clearly Qenneshre 
expected to get some tangible benefit from the election of one of her sons to the 
apostolic see. 

Three of the early patriarchs of the Syrian Orthodox church had close links with the 
monastery of Gubo-Baroyo between Aleppo and Mabbugh in the region of Cyrrhus, a 
very fertile and prosperous area: Paul of Beth Ukome and John I were Gubites and 
Peter of Kallinikos was buried there. 229 Gubo-Baroyo came to the fore again in the 
eighth century. Elijah (708/9-724) and Athanasius III (724-739/40) were both from this 
monastery, indeed the latter had been abbot of it. 230 He was ordained at the abbey of 
Qartmin, which may mean there was already an alliance between these two houses."' 
Certainly they acted in concert later in the century and in the early part of the next. 

One might conjecture that the alliance between Gubo-Baroyo and Qartmin was 
struck in the seventh century, when the former may have resented the virtual monopoly 
of Qenneshre over the patriarchate. With the Persian invasion and the subsequent 
disappearance of.the international frontier on the Tigris, the provinces of the Persian 
East entered the medley of Syrian Orthodox politics, with the monastery of Mor 
Matthew in the vanguard. Qartmin seems early to have formed friendships among the 
'Persian' monks. We have seen that it probably owed its elevation to the status of an 
episcopal, even a metropolitan, see to Mor Matthew. 232 In the schism which occurred 
in the reign of Severus bar Mashqe {667/8-683/4) we find hints of an alliance between 
the two. The leader of the rebellion, Sergius Zkhunoyo, was not indeed a monk of 
either, but he was under the influence of Mor Matthew; and the chronicler names 
Ananias (of Damascus), a monk of Qartmin, as the next most important opponent of 

125 Chr. Michael 1195, XI.25C. p. 475; Chr. Zuqnin 775. p. 212 (Chabot. p. 61]. 

218 Chr. Michael //05, Register x, p. 752; Athanasius II spent his youth at Qenneshre: ibid., XL 1 5c. p. 444. 

1,1 Chr. Zuqnin 775. p. 213 [Chabot, pp. 6o-t|: The name of the man was John; his dwelling was in 
Shawharto Hfikhto of [Mt] Ayshumo [cf. L. Daniel, fol. 99b. I ; summary, p. 6 1 n. 1 ], since he had spent a long 
time in the wandering life of spiritual exile (cf. Ch. 3, n. 82] and as one who claimed to know this George, he 
approached the Mesopotamian bishops and especially those ofQartminite origin and said, "How is it that 
you intend to make patriarch over yourselves a man who threatened your monastery, saying: If I gel authority 
in the Church. I shall destroy the name of Qartmini [sic] and of the monastery of Athanas from the earth?"' 

**• Chr. Michael 1195, xt.25c. p. 475. 

2 " Chr. Michael 119}, Register m, rv, vn, p. 752. 

"* Chr. Michael 1195, xi.ioc. pp. 456-7: Register xit. xm. p. 752. 

1 * ' Chr. Michael 1 195, Register xm. p. 752: but Chr. Gregory //, col. 299 says "we have found in some MSS 
that he was from the monastery of Harbaz and was consecrated at Edessa and that the bishop Gabriel laid 
hands on him'. This variant cannot stand against the double attestation in Michael's Chronicle that 
Athanasius had been abbot of Gubo-Baroyo. 1J1 p. 153. 


176 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

the patriarch." J Throughout the related correspondence the prominence of the monks 
in the dispute (as opposed to clergy and people) is reiterated."* The dispute was about 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and since only monks could become bishops they were 
plainly far from disinterested in their zeal. The Matthaeans, supported by the 
Qartminites, thus became the chief opponents of the Qenneshrite patriarchs It was 
natural that they should join forces with the Gubites, even if their motivation was 

When the curtain opens on the scene of the mid-eighth-century schism, a number of 
Qartminite bishops hold the centre of the stage; one would like to know by which 
patnarchs they were ordained. There is every chance that it was the two Gubites who 
reigned between 708 and 740. Other Qartminite bishops were ordained between these 
years, not only in T"r Abdin, but also, for instance, at Harran, where Simeon of the 
Olives was succeeded by his disciple Thomas, from Qartmin. Simeon's biographer 
wrote that, after his death in 734. every city that wanted a bishop sought one from 
Qartmin." 5 This exaggeration expresses the pride of a remote abbey, which has begun 
to make a decisive impact on the world at large through its widespread episcopal 
representatives. " a 

Simeon of the Olives himself was an exceptional Qartminite. Closely allied with the 
Qenneshrite patriarch Julian, he cooperated with his policy toward the East, which was 
far from congenial to the Matthaeans. It was surety this loyalty which earned him the 
see of FJarran, an influential position in the early Arab period, and which won for 
Qartmin patriarchal approval of the profit-making arrangements established by Sime- 
on in Nisibis." 7 Moses of Tur Abdin wrote approvingly of Simeon, in spite of the fact 
that his own village, Anhel, seems to have been rather opposed to Qartmin and 
although Daniel of Tur Abdin, who was probably his son, was clearly biassed against 
the abbey. 

The virtual unanimity with which the bishops originally voted for George at 
Mabbugh was broken at the last minute by the desertion of the Mesopotamian bishops* 
hardly had they recrossed the Euphrates when they changed their tune and set up John 
of Kallmikos, a monk of Qarqafto, as a counter-patriarch, although he had stayed to 
vote for George at Mabbugh; his acceptance, and the initiative of the monasteries in 
electing him, brought discredit on monks generally. The cities, and even some monas- 

r,a< ST!? y^ltur? W u \ Ananias and Gabriel of Rish'ayno as the ringleaders: Chr. Michaet 
''»• *'-'3 c . P- 436 with Chr. Edeaa 1234. 11. pp. 262-3 
IM See n. 50 above. 

W\ !^ Si ^f° n ?f 0livcs ' PP 2 3&-i IDolabani, p. 142]; summary, p. 177. 
T„r *££. VST???* h u , !'- cemu £ *[ sh °P* arc kno * n to have sprung from Qartmin. excluding bishops of 
Tur Abdin and of the abbey .tself: HARRAN: Simeon (700-34). Thomas (734-7/8). Isaac (752-5 then 
EPSUS? '56/7). D c„,s (, 75^-/2): MAYPERQAT: Alha'nasius (c. )!£& 7 „« pSrch un!S 
25; r 5^ D rv d r ( ' 74 7; 6l/ . 2 ' ,hcn ^-P*™"* until 768/9); SEGESTAN: Cyriac (e 747-52, then 

r ra ^£,w P ?k ,hC 'ft? ° f (lu, T aii EDESSA: H**<*9. **«**• ZWu«U?1«SE2 
dismissed; again, for ihe rural districts only, e.793; died after 797/8) 

n^mSI° h H r^ 'i 1 * 3 ^" the ^r* " enl t0 mect thc oli P h Marwan and •<» °*« him the rich 
rfD^TS^SSS ^ 0n S tyCT ™ C,$ <^^ cte ' / "«.x..22c.p.464);foritsimportanceasacentre 
«Z 4 JLn ?*, . r. r^' ** 5' Fchcrvari - £/ * '« C97D. P- «8: Marwan II made Harran his 
ttvST «ne capita! of the Ummayad' Patriarchal approval of profits: L. Simeon of Olives, p. 223 
[Uoiaoam, p. 1 38J; summary, p. 1 77. 

Mother of bishops 177 

leries, refused to recognize him. 233 Was it not a Qartminite, David of Dara, who 
succeeded John after four years and, winning the favour of the caliph al-Mansur, had 
George imprisoned in the newly founded city of Baghdad in 767?"° But David, by 
using naked force of arms to impose his authority, an authority which stemmed from 
thc diploma given him by the caliph, not from an open election, alienated the people and 
even some of the friends of Qartmin. 1 * Thus the Chronicle of 846, normally sympa- 
thetic in its attentions to Qartmin, twice characterizes him as 'the evildoer'. 24 ' Many of 
the bishops he ordained were rejected by their dioceses; one of these was Elijah, 'a 
heartless man without a thought for God', whom David appointed to Edessa in 769, 
only to see him driven out with abuse. This Elijah was a Qartminite. 2 * 2 

David's extremism had the result that George was well received throughout the 
church on his release from gaol in 77s. 2 * 3 It was a time of universal hardship, the legacy 
of three or more years of excessive taxation, aggravated by natural disasters and other 
causes. The general amnesty which freed George was the customary gesture of the new 
caliph at his accession. George must have reaped some of the goodwill generated by al- 
Mahdi's decision to arrest the rapacious governor of Mesopotamia. Musa, the son of 
Mus'ab; he was shortly to prove, to the satisfaction of Musa's successor, Ali, that he 
was not one of those prelates whose political methods placed an intolerable financial 
burden on the lay community. 244 The church had had quite enough of them and many 
rural areas were by this stage scarcely able to pay their taxes, let alone to sustain a 
hierarchy which fought out its internal battles by bribing the Muslim authorities. 
Consequently George encountered little resistance to his programme of normalization. 
He replaced all the bishops ordained by David with other men. In all probability he 
reunited the diocese of Tur 'Abdin without delay. If the omission of his patriarchal title 
in an inscription of 784/5 at Qartmin 2 ** may show a residue of ill-feeling (al-Mahdi had 
forbidden George to use thc title, but had not enforced this command), its inclusion in 
another inscription of the same period at the Monastery of the Cross 2 * 6 suggests that 
only the hard core of the opposition had remained bitter. Denis of TelUMahre records 
that George was 'welcomed like an angel of God* in Tagrit, Mossul and everywhere in 
Mesopotamia. 2 * 7 

In a letter written by George to Deacon Guriyo of Beth Na c ar, near Edessa, we find 
evidence of the patriarch's statesmanship and good judgement. 1 * 8 Guriyo had asked 
for a ruling on the controversial question, whether it was right to use the phrase: 'We 
break the heavenly bread in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy 
Ghost' in celebrating the Eucharist. George replied that there could be no doubt that 
thc phrase, for all its popularity, implied a division of the person of Christ which was 

m Chr. Zuqnin?75,pp. 21 4-1 7 (Chabot, pp. 6 1-4I: 'The eastern abbeys made John patriarch without the 
consent of the cities of Mesopotamia, or indeed of any of the abbeys; the westerners and the Mossulites 
consented lo George.* **« Chr. Qartmin 819. ag 1073; Chr. Michaet ttgj t xi.26c, pp. 476-7. 

110 Chr. Michael rift}, XI. 26c, p. 477; Chr, Qartmin 8 70, AG 1073. to8o. 

141 Chr. 'Harran' 846, ac 1073. 1(080] (ji#p/«rvi): curiously there is a lacuna in the word in question in each 
of the two places, but there is no sign on the MS that it was deleted on purpose, nor is there any doubt about 
the restoration. 2 * 2 Chr. Zuqnin 775, p. 252 [Chabot, p. 90). 

*** Chr. Michael 1193, p. 478, *** Chr. Michael f/95, p. 479. 

*** MSCR. A.8; but this omission may be a mistake (see p. 215). J ** INSCR. B.9. 

i4t See n. 243. **• Chr. Michael 1195, xn.2, pp, 480-2. 


I — ' I — • I — ' 

178 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

heretical: for the bread is called 'heavenly' by virtue of its identity with Christ, so how 
can it be bJessed in Christ's name? Nevertheless, he refused to forbid its use, because he 
knew that this would give a pretext for trouble-makers to cause another schism. This is 
exactly what happened in the reign of the next patriarch but one, Cyriac. Abramowski 
has pointed out that the heretical phrase may be an indication of Nestorian influence on 
the 'Persian' Syrian Orthodox. 2 ** It was sustained elsewhere, notably at Qartmin and 
at Gubo-Baroyo, but this can be put down to the fact that it became a kind of badge of 
the three-cornered monastic alliance described above. 

There are some other hints that Qartmin was secretly regarded as being tainted with 
Nestorianism, at least by her patriarchal opponents. Iwannis accused the 'venerable 
elder" Sandloyo of keeping several mistresses - and a wife disguised as a nun! 2 so Much 
was made of David's Persian bodyguard, and it was claimed that these soldiers forced 
the faithful to receive communion at David's hands. 2S l Both these accusations allude 
to the notorious Barsawmo of Nisibis, who had imposed Nestorianism in Persia at the 
point of the sword and had taken a nun to wife, ruling (in his own interest) that 
Nestorian bishops must be married. 2 " Such, at least, was the Syrian Orthodox 
tradition about him, as recorded in the early seventh century, and it is confirmed in 
some degree by Nestorian sources. 251 In this connection, the evidence of cultural 
exchange between Qartmin and the Church of the East in the early eleventh century 
should be noted. 2 * 4 It may also be revelant that the Nestorian 'Mor Awgin' cycle of 
monastic legends had a strong influence at a later date on the way in which the authors 
of saints' Lives in Tur 'Abdin perceived their past. 25 5 This is hardly surprising. Qartmin 
had sustained a polemical dialogue with the Nestorian monastery of Abraham of 
Kashkar a few miles away on the southern escarpment of the same plateau in the latter 
part of the seventh century. 25 * After the disappearance of the frontier, Nestorian 
monks seem to have taken over the monastery of Mor Malke in Beth Rishe, the south- 
eastern part of Tur Abdin. 257 On the east side, too, the Persian frontier ran quite close 
to Qartmin and place names from the region between Azakh and the Tigris, Beth 

119 Abramowski, Dionyiius. p. 98. 

: »» Chr. Michael 119$, xi.2jc p. 468; cf. XL 2 3b. ibid, (tcft column, line 8). 

1,1 Chr. Michael 1195. xi.26c, p. 477. 

ni Chr. Michael r/95, XI.9C, p. 426. 

■ MJ Chr. Michael 1195, xi.9, pp. 423-7; Gero. Barfauma of Nisibis (1981), p. 57. 

"• Berlin MS Sachau 304 is a glorious illustrated Gospel lectionary, written in Es|rangelo on parchment 
by the famous scribe Emmanuel, nephew of bishop John of Qartmin (cf. Ckr. Gregory u. cols. 417, 419); A. 
Palmer, OC 73 (1089), shows that there is no reason to doubt this attribution, in spile of the fact that the 
lectionary, as regards its contents, is an East-Syrian book (Sachau. MSS Berlin. No. 14. pp. 27-32). 

"! *■**• John °f K f one ' f °l. «a: John, an Athenian, saw Mor Awgin in Athens and followed him; after 
Awgin had lived for many years on Ml Izlo, he sent out his disciples to 'colonize' the East from Nisibis to 
India. The region above M'arc as far as Armenia fell by lot to Malke, Elisha. Isaiah of Aleppo, Busino. Zvino. 
Moses and our John, who converted Beth Rishe. to the north of Mt Izala. and Beth Mohallam and Hesnod- 
Kifo and the rest; cf. J.M. Fiey. Anal. Boll. 80 (102). pp. 66-9. 

1,4 Thomas ofMargo, it. 18, p. 90 [Bedjan, p. 86]. 

,,T That it was originally West-Syrian is suggested by the following Tacts: that the frontier between 
Byzantine and Persian territory is most likely to have followed the ridge to the south of Mor Malke; that the 
ground plan of the ancient church conforms to the West-Syrian type of monastic church, from which the 
undoubtedly Nestorian churches of Mor Awgin and Mor John the Arab on the south slopes or Izala diverge; 
that Malke is more prominent in the West-Syrian liturgical calendars than in the East-Syrian. 

■*«!W.l J «»Mi™^lW*»r»^<^ 

Mother of bishops 179 

Zabday, are chiefly attested in Nestorian literature. 258 Even Simeon of the Olives was 
rumoured to have taken refuge from episcopal ordination in the monastery of Fenek, 
on the Nestorian side of the Tigris, 259 and contacts between Qartmin and Corduene are 
already documented in the fifth century. 260 The monks of Qartmin would probably 
have repudiated with indignation any insinuation of Nestorian tendencies, but they 
could hardly fail to have been affected by their geographical proximity. To judge by the 
ninth-century Qartminite patriarch, Theodosius Romanus, who translated the doctri- 
nally questionable Book of Hierotheos, 261 the monks of his abbey stood in a tradition of 
mysticism so abstract and indefinite that it might well have been cultivated in common 
across the denominational boundary. 

No such geographical cause can be adduced for the adoption of the formula by the 
Gubites, to the west of the Euphrates. This is not an indication of the extent to which 
Nestorian ideas had penetrated the West-Syrian church, as Abramowski thought. 2 * 2 
The Gubites adopted it simply to share the pretext of their eastern allies for rebelling 
once more against the patriarch. After the death of George in 790 the synod, swayed 
(Denis claims) by fear of the rich monastery of Gubo-Baroyo, elected as his successor 
Joseph, monk of that house. 2 * 3 Theanti-Qcnneshrite party rejoiced and prepared itself 
fora reign in which they would have their own way - for Joseph was uneducated and not 
particularly intelligent, so might be easily be controlled by his fellow-monks. Their first 
setback was Joseph's failure to persuade the Edessenes to take back their bishop 
Zechariah, a monk of Qartmin Abbey, not to be confused with his predecessor, another 
Zechariah, who had also been rejected by the diocese and dismissed in 783/4 by the 
patriarch George. 26 * The second Zechariah was consecrated by George and dismissed 
by him in 785/6 as a result of the complaints brought against him by the clergy and the 
chief laymen of thecity. 265 As soon as Joseph was consecrated patriarch, this Zechariah 
persuaded him 10 go with him to Edessa to reconcile him with his diocese: but the 
Edessenes would not have him. 26 * The second reversal for the allies was the sudden 
death of their figurehead, Joseph, less than a year after his consecration, in the 
monastery founded by Athanasius Sandloyo above Tell-Beshmay, where Sandloyo 
himself was buried. 2 * 7 It is significant that Joseph was visiting one of the powerful 
houses of the Qartminite party. 

Joseph's successor was Cyriac (793-817), from the Monastery of the Pillar at 

m e.g. Awsar, which appears in the Qartmin Trilogy alone of West-Syrian literature (xxxix.15, with a 
significant variant), can be situated by reference to L. John ofNhel, section 1 7 ('the village of Awsar in Beth 
Zabday'). and Leg . Pinhes, p. 2 1 6 (between the river Saryo. p. 2 1 5 - cf. Leg . Soro, p. 223; Qarimin Trilogy, 
iv. 1 ; Hoffmann, Auszuge aus syrischen Aklenpersischer Martyrer ( 1 880). p. 24 n. 1 75 - and theTigris opposite 
Fenek). On the nineteenth-century village of Awsar, about a third of the way from Jazirat ibn Umar to 
Azakh, see A. Socin, ZDMG 35 (1S81). p. 244, according well with the above. 

"• L. Simeon of Olives, p. 227 (Dolabani. p. 141]; summary, p. 177. 

290 XXn.6-7; XXltl.6; L. Philoxenos. fol. 113a (cf. Ch. 4, n. 5). 

: " Book of Hierotheos, Introduction; Baumstark. Geschichte. p. 280, Theodosius' positive opinion of the 
book was not shared by the patriarch Cyriac (793-81 7). who made in synod a canonical statement thai: 'The 
book which bears the name of Hierotheos is not his, but seems to be by Stephen bar Sudayli, the heretic' (Can. 
Gregory, p. 105 [Nau, p. 105. No. 199I). It is virtually a work of pantheism. 

"' Abramowski, Dionysius, p. 98. :6J Chr. Michael 1193, XII.3C. p. 483. 

*** Chr. Michael //05, xji.ic. p. 479. *»» Chr. Michael 1195,, 3c, pp. 480, 482. 

"* Chr. Michael 119s. xu.yc, p. 483. i47 toe. eit. 


Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

«2S k r« h-Vr ?-** (8,8_45) dear,y depi0red the hot -headedness with which Cyriac 
reacted to his Gubuc opponents and their eastern friends, provoking instead of S? 

E He trilled r^ firS 7 aSkS WaS t0 p!aCa,e the dis *™ t,ed 2«*»riah of 
hdessa. He travelled with him to the city and had an enthusiastic reception - until he 

mentioned the matter of Zechariah. Then the Edessenes became stu^m But Cyriac 

was able to persuade them to let him have the visiting of four rural district oHhe 

diocese as long as he should live, on condition that they reverted after his S h to he 

bishop of the city."' (It is noteworthy that the idea of dividing a dio«£ in This wav 

mtroduced at Amida by Iwannis for practical reasons against the^iScUize s and 

£ Cvrinc /, y ° " ^ fAMin t0 Sadsfy tW ° ambitious ™» « one, had Scome 

rln"" h. T, ea m ° re aCCCptablC rCC ° UrSe) Havi "8 offered '■* s°P to ZecS 

^Edetn: mXfT * ^"^ ^ "" d » ittdf ' With the ™ c ™f 
me fcdessenes a monk of Qenneshre, named Basil. 1 " The Edessenes were toval to 

Qenneshre and opposed to Qartmin. There had never been strong contact Sen 

Edessa and the latter, whereas we know from the example of Denis of Te^MahreTa" 

at least one o the aristocratic families of the city was represented in the commtnUya 

Qenneshre, which, after all, was at no great distance from Edessa.*" When Z^ariah 

ml*. Probably he was one of the bishops who, having a grudge against Cyriac 
causes courageous attempt to achieve reunification with the mJ^^Zi 

a J£f!!? K°' Ved l . hi ? dc,icate P roblem successfully, Cyriac thought that he could 
abo i the heretical phrase about breaking 'the heavenly bread' from the Eucharist 
He forbade the pnests whom he ordained to use it. But, as George had fore^n the 
opposiuon wasquick to makean issueof this. At the synod of Beth Botinin 79 ^u was 

'oTmut' " 'c S T ";' thC u PatriarCh ' lhat th ° SC Wh ° Wishcd *» « «* r-to u eThe 
formula. 2 " Cynac had another serious setback in 797/8, when he failed to bring abou! 
* rapprochements the Syrian Julianists, again because of the present of ^vcra 
enemies among his own bishops.- Against Severus of Samosata he hadTucoeTfu Sy 
appealed to secular authority."- His policy of direct confrontation had lc« happy 
re ults ,n the case of Bishop Bacchus of Cyrrhestia. who resided at themonalte^f 
Gubo-Baroyo * 8 ° Cyriac dismissed him after several warnings and BacZTSn e 

accent a bishtli' u "* ^T" inJUnCti ° n that < he Cyrrhestians should neve 
raTelv had a bT I *"* " GUb " e - ""* WaS n ° l e « ra ordinary: T ur Abdin very 
rarely had a bishop who was not a monk of Qartmin."" But Cyriac found it 'unjusf 

"' Chr. Michael „ W . xil. 3 c, p. 484. In , oc „-, Abn ™^ Oionyuus. p. 99. 

"» Chr. Michael ,,95. x... 4 c p 486 ^Ar &' 1° V* 9 ' 

*" Chr. Michael „£ x^c." £*£_« -^t /'f m * P ^ *" **- «' 

-» Before the openingof the official Renter of ordinal, none are specify recorded; between m 

Mother of bishops 181 

that a region be held as the 'legacy' of its inhabitants in this way. He ordained for them 
instead a monk of the monastery of Jacob of Cyrrhus, named Solomon. This resulted 
not only in the division of the diocese; but in a general schism. The Cyrrhestians erased 
the name Cyriac from the diptychs forthwith and a deputation of Gubites and rebel 
bishops, some of whom had been deposed, was sent to the caliph Harun at-Rashid. 
Seeing that he was on the point of making war with the Byzantines, they look the line 
that Cyriac was a Byzantine sympathizer, even a spy, who for this reason had built 
churches on the Byzantine frontier. This 'information' provoked the caliph to order the 
destruction of all the churches on the frontier, a command which was executed with 
excessive zeal in other regions also, such as Antioch and Jerusalem. Cyriac sub- 
sequently managed to justify himself to the caliph and 'everyone cursed the Gubites 
who had caused this disaster'. 282 It was only a few years later that the monastery of 
Qenneshre was itself destroyed by fire; what was left of it was removed afterwards by 
partisans of the Gubites. 283 

All these things were followed by worse disturbances, until at last Cyriac called a 
synod at Gubrin in Cyrrhestia in 807/8, at which the ringleaders of the Gubite rebellion 
were anathematized, among them Simeon, a monk of Gubo. 28 * After the synod, 
Simeon's brother, Abraham, who was a monk of Qartmin, sought to persuade the 
patriarch to pardon Simeon; but in the event Abraham also joined the rebellion and 
became its leader. ;8S The Gubites made him 'patriarch* and he 'ordained' 
metropolitans, without provinces, who went about accusing Cyriac of Julianism and 
stirring up popular support for the symbolic formula concerning the 'heavenly bread*. 
This led to a general anathema by the patriarch against Abraham of Qartmin 'and all 
the Gubites'. 286 True to historical form, the Matthaeans and the Syrian Orthodox of 
Tagrit joined the ranks of those who opposed the patriarch Cyriac, although their 
pretext was a different one. 287 On this side, also, Cyriac found no solution other than to 
anathematize the Matthaeans and their bishops. The courtesy was reciprocated. Things 
were no better when Cyriac died in 817. 

Such was the inheritance of Denis of Tell-Mahre, as Cyriac's successor in the 
patriarchate: 288 a church in schism on every side, with an anti-patriarch of the utmost 
duplicity. With Abraham (whom he calls 'Abiram', after the priest who rebelled against 
Moses), Denis wrestled and argued and treated for many years. He defeated him finally, 
having won the Gubites to his side. Abraham died in 837, the last of the great 
Qartminite rebels, and Denis quickly put a stop to the attempt which was made to make 
his brother Simeon anti-patriarch in his stead. With patience and skill, and with liberal 
recourse to secular power as guarantor of his authority, Denis restored order in his 
church and kept it united under his governorship. But, writing the epilogue to his 
Chronicle shortly before his death in 845, he saw only black clouds on the horizon. 289 

and 1 089. of 1 7 bishops of Tur Abdin only Severus of Tel! ' Eda ( Register xxvm.4: 962) and John Zakay of the 
monastery of Abed (Register xxxit.12: 1032-42) are explicitly said to have come from elsewhere and John 
(Register xxix.8: 965-85) is of uncertain provenance. 1Bt Chr. Michael 1195. XII.5C, p. 490. 

Ui Chr. Michael 1195, xtt.6b, p. 491 J «* Chr. Michael 1193, xu.6c. pp. 491-2. 

**' Chr. Michael U95. xn.6c. p. 492- "' toe. cit. •'»' Chr. Michael 1195. xiijc. pp. 492f. 

'•• Chr. Michael 119;. Xll.9, p. 500. ! *° Chr. Michael 1195, xit.21. pp. 53$f. 

The springs run dry: Spiritual and economic 

Dents of Te l-Mahre was haunted by the spectre of the decadence of his West-Syrian 
community.' He was proud of his achievement in harnessing the indocile ^elements 

Yefhe ^ t0 e ^ °! K iS aUth ° rity ' Whh thC ^ arantee ° f ^»" power beta i 
Yet he was weary of the labonousand humiliating performances that were necessary to 
retain the support of the caliph and his agents. Somehow, the very sweetnes of h* 
rhetorical success, when a,-Ma>mun received him in 828 aloneTn his orchard a 

ChSSal WaS mmg " al ° eS ' beCaUSe " WaS W ° n at thc a ^ ° f ^s Pride as a 

Compromise was necessary at every turn. It no longer seemed possible to be 

unbending ,n defence of a single truth, like the saints of old. Perhaps fhis s why th^ 

unreahty. They had a totally different function from those of earlier times 

No-one can mistake the earnest spiritual engagement of the Lives of the Eastern 
Wor of Elijah's biography of John of Telia. These are, in the first place, eLpTesTf 
moral courage and Christian charity, presented with an immediacy which changes 

ind nrh er K ^ T e reSP ° nSe - 2 A ' ready the Lives of Athanasius" he CamcMnW 
^.^3et2^ " ^eearly seventh century, and the Life of Theodoto" the 
InH IL • P ' ^, hC ' mpnnl ° f a s, § nificant shift: humility, courage, mortification 
ttere as we"- 3 Devils 5^™ ,, ke savage bu( cowed Tf wicked 

dlstribuT ^ ^ ^ alikC - ThC h ° ,y man "° 'ong^rrestsallhishopeinChritne 

iS^rSi" 1 ^ ^ Saint rf" d re ' iCS ' Wh ° Se P ° Wer he USe ' al ^ »*» 
white magician. The correspondence of Jacob of Edessa (d. 708) shows that relics were 

even Christ s power was situated firmly in the consecrated host.* 

John of Ephesus (d. 586) had been free of this exaggerated emphasis on relics, as had 

1 Abramowski. Dionysius. (1940). pp. \\ 4 -n 

> i ll ^ Shbr00 A Ha ^ Ve ^ doc,0ral ,hesis " Birmingham 1982, 

The springs run dry 183 

his contemporaries. For them, it had been much more important to encounter a living 
holy man, whom they could try to follow in the Way of Truth. Theodotos (d. 698) was a 
transitional phenomenon: his charisma resided not in himself alone, but in the sack of 
bones which he carried about with him. Simeon of the Olives (d. 734) represents the 
final stage in the transition: his miracles and his sanctity, his bouts as a recluse or as 
'stylite', seem a mere hagiographical formality, while thc serious purpose of his life is to 
build up his monastery and his own village by political dexterity and economic 

Thereafter, the hagiographies produced in our area cease to find their subject among 
contemporaries or in the recent past. The plague of 774 caused the monks of Qartmin to 
appeal, not to any living holy man, but to Gabriel of Beth Qustan, who had been buried 
126 years previously (xct.4; cf. p. 157). The lament of the chronicler of Zuqnin in 775 
knows no bounds. It was nothing new to find the cause for natural and political disaster 
in the sinfulness of the victims; but the catalogue of moral degradation with which this 
writer substantiates his arguments shows a disgust with humanity verging on the loss of 
faith in Christian salvation. 

In those times the most obvious motives for entering the monastic life were material 
well-being and political opportunity. The monks were the foremost activists in the 
power struggle within the Syrian Orthodox community. Even a hermit of long standing 
left his ruin on the dry foothills of Ayshumo to poison the minds of the Mesopotamian 
bishops against George, whom they had already agreed to consecrate as patriarch; and 
this was done in the spirit of monastic rivalry. 3 In the schism which followed, the 
monasteries brought themselves into disrepute by recreating the old 'rival hierarchy' 
which had existed outside the cities in the years of Chalccdonian persecution. 6 If an 
occasional 'remnant of sanctity' was found in a cave or in a monastery, he resolutely 
refused to become a bishop; if compelled, he insisted on remaining a recluse and 
delegating his duties. 7 No wonder, then, that those who did become bishops in this 
period left a record of cynicism and self-interest. 

The monks had abandoned their stance outside society, the position from which they 
had once been able to act as regulators and as mediators, respected by the rich and 
powerful but open to the appeals of the oppressed. They were now themselves the 
oppressors and went hand-in-glove with the rulers and the landowners to exploit the 
people. Where a defender of the people and a denouncer of the bishops did appear, he 
found no monastic hagiographer. On the contrary, his ascetic character was assassi- 
nated by the monks who wrote about him and his whole career was so blackened in the 
records that we cannot guess the real character of the prophet. Yet after he had been 
imprisoned by the anti-patriarch David, the deacon (and rejected monk) Morutho 
attracted a vast following. 8 

It is from the onset of this age, when the socially active holy man was ignored or 
calumniated by the guardians of literacy, that we should date the more legendary 
hagiographies of the West-Syrians. The Qartmin Trilogy and thc Life of Aaron of 
Serugh, different though they are in respect of their composition, may be regarded as 

' Chr. Zuqnin 775, p. 213 (Chabot, pp. 6o-i|, translated in Ch. 5, n. 227. 

* Chr. Zuqnin 77s. p. 21 4, 249 [Chabot. pp. 61, 83]. 

' Chr. Zuqnin 775, p. 2i8f [Chabot. pp. 641]. * Chr. Zuqnin 775, p. z8zf [Chaboi, pp. u6f]. 

184 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

two examples of hagiography serving the purpose of a monastic charter.* The Life of 
Aaron is fiction from start to finish, but it won for the monastery which produced it 
general recognition of a fourth-century origin and of a spurious benefaction by the 
emperor Constantinc. 10 

Qartmin, as it happened, realJy did possess such a history, which may even have 
inspired the Life of Aaron and the Life ofMaike; yet the author who put together the 
Trilogy 1 saw his task as that of surrounding the great Qartminites of the past with an 
aura of fairy-iaJe enchantment and seductive prose, so that the stories would go down 
well and be remembered. It is no accident that the most fictional of the three the Life of 
Gabriel, was the most effective in this way. 

The unreality of the spiritual content of the Trilogy is most evident where a spiritual 
purpose is most earnestly counterfeited: in the sermon which the author appends to the 
Catalogue of Holy Men (xxiv.t 3 -xxvi.,8). Clearly the Qartminites of the ninth and 
tenth century had little idea of the motivation of their forefathers and regarded them as 
a race apart, untouchable in sanctity. Perhaps this is why their own quest for sanctity 
took such a d.storted shape. The Book of Hierotheos, translated by Theodosius 'the 
Roman', the most eminent Qartminite of his time, appealed to a mystic sensibility 
almost severed from the roots of Christian tradition, which leaned towards panthe- 
ism. » A century earlier another patriarch. Cyriac, had condemned this book in a 
synodical canon as heretical. 12 

Beginning in 785 and covering the whole of the ninth century, the patriarchal 
canons preserved in the West-Syrian 'Synodkon' and in the Nomocanon of Gregory 
Barhebraeus highlight the features of this period." Earlier canons have not survived 
for comparison; it would be unsound to suppose that abuses first attested here had not 
been committed before. But the obsessiveness with which the synods return to those 
rebellious abbots who form parties in opposition to their bishop', to the 'abbots 
styhtes and recluses who send out letters of anathema', and to the 'bishops who change 
their see and act beyond their powers and against other bishops' 1 * smacks of a serious 
malaise, which the chronicles regard as having become chronic about the mid-eighth 
century. 6 

Denis of Tell-Mabre's canons, which were adopted by the svnod of Kallinikos in 
August 818 (not October 817), are prefaced with some clear references to the rebel 
monasteries and their rival hierarchy, and to the unholy alliance made between the 
rebels and 'outsiders' (Muslims) against their legitimate patriarch. « * ft is 'a time more 

wh™, f ,5?1' 1V ' S ^'' "' P - 2 ° 7 :, ,Thcrc are ma "y monasierics which have lost the stories of the saints under 
whose peonage they were built, such as Mor Bchnatn. who . . . works wonders ... yet he has no" ory "Si 

SE , 1 ?l l% rCaSOn ; WC haVe rcCORlcd thcse "•ona S «eri«( J c. restored by John of Mard°n in the 
twelfth century) and the ongm of their buildings and the names of the saints on whose reha thev are bu It 
although what » ™ily needed is for each to have his own story written for him/ * ' 

10 A. Palmer. OC 70 (1986), pp. 61-4. 

No'r£ a c?L in ,d^ 

[no.ix.ccl, rd. pp. 8931). '* Can. Gregory, p. 105 fNau, p. 105 (No. 199)). 
» Can. W.Syr., a, pp. if; Can. Gregory, passim fNau. pi. Ill] 

">. ,„ IN... p. „ «N„. „„ „,d p. 94 (No. ,00,1. ^iX^^ZSSSZ?- 

The springs run dry 185 

troubled than any other, when disobedience is rife and love and faith have all but 
disappeared'. The first four canons are directed against rogue bishops and those who 
have recourse to 'foreigners outside the court of the Church', or the Christians in 
secular authority, to circumvent the jurisdiction of their bishop. Many other canons 
condemn secularization and assimilation in its various forms (such as circumcision). 
The eleventh canon denounces 'conspiracies and wicked covenants entered into by 
distinguished clergy and abbots for private ends'. These disorders arc familiar from the 
history of the later eighth century; they continued throughout the ninth. 

The final canon of Denis should be quoted in full. It attests certain changes which 
surely affected Tur Abdin. 

When the synod considered the circumstances of this time, and that many monks, overtaken by 
the necessity of the time, have left their holy dwellings and the inhabitation of monasteries and 
abbeys which are, for the most part, remote from the cities (since the saints took pains and made 
every effort to live in the mountains and in the deserts, and established them with an intention far 
removed from the world) and have been forced by compelling circumstances to live in monas- 
teries around the cities and even, occasionally, in the cities themselves and in villages, it did not 
seem right to the synod, in view of the disturbance and necessity of the time, to issue any 
dominical command against them at all, although they would be more benefited by living the 
soli tary life, utterly distanced from the world. Nevertheless, we have all determined by dominical 
decree that no monk shall live anywhere in the city or in the region of a bishop without that 
bishop's will and permission. Then, when those who are worthy and above suspicion live there, let 
them not be seen to exalt themselves in any way at all in any matter which pertains to the 
community and is the concern of the bishop alone. The testimony of only two persons shall be 
sufficient ground for the expulsion of anyone apprehended in such misdemeanours, because he 
will have shown himself a presumptuous trouble-maker with no respect for the dignified habit of 
monasticism which he wears. 16 

Tur 'Abdin was just such a remote area, where 'the saints' had chosen to found their 
monasteries. Note the mythical quality of the saints for the ninth-century writer, who 
must imagine either an age without crises or a kind of man impervious to them. The 
hypocritical regrets are, at best, mere nostalgia. 

Whatever the nature of the 'compelling circumstances', they would have lacked no 
force on the sparsely watered plateau of Tur Abdin. Many monks will have followed 
the general drift of the agrarian population towards the cities as a result of a system of 
taxation which had been working to the severe disadvantage of the remoter regions 
since the third quarter of the eighth century. 1 7 Perhaps, also, the rise of local dynasts, 
such as Tsa ibn al-Shaykh, in the ninth century added to the insecurity of the 
countryside, especially for non-Muslims, who prospered better under a strong central 
government. 19 

Shortly after 793, when he became a bishop, a monk of Kallinikos, called Ananias, 
rcfounded the Saffron Monastery, near his appointed city of Mardin, in a well-watered 
position with fertile lands and cliffs to north and east, ideally suited to hermits. 19 The 

'* C*ut. tV-Syr.. it, pp. 33-4 (No. 12). " C. Cahen, Arabica 1 (1954). pp. 136-52. 

" M. Canard. EI ! tv (1978), pp, 88-91, (I am grateful to Dr H. Kennedy for this suggestion). 
" Chr. Michael 1 19$. XII.5D. pp. 488-9 (from the lost Ecclesiastical Histories of Dnahiso', Xl.17): Can. W- 
Syr., it, p. 207 corrects Michael's assertion that Ananias was a monk of Mor Matthew. 

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Table i. Chronological table of events concerning fur "Abdin before ad 8oo 
(All dales are or the Christian era) 

348-350 Constantius fortifies, in successive years, Amida, Telia and 'fur 'Abdin 

363 Jovian cedes Nisibis and the Transtigrttane Provinces to the Persians after the death of Julian in Mesopotamia 
396/7 Traditional foundation date of Qartmin Abbey, marking the benefaction of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius 
409 Arcadius' successor, Theodosius II, reaffirms his predecessor's policy by making an important benefaction to Qartmin 
c. 410 Death of Samuel, of Eslitin village, founder of Qartmin Abbey, on 15 May 
433 Death of Simeon, of Qartmin village, disciple of Samuel and second abbot of Qartmin Abbey, on 19 January 
421 Death of Jacob the Recluse, founder of the monastery near Salah 

439 Death of Daniel, founder of the monastery on Mt Aghlosh, who is succeeded by his son and disciple, Lazarus 
443/4 Burial vault of Qartmin Abbey emptied; 483 skulls, including that of the Founder, are placed in the charnel-house 
4 8 3/4 John Sa'oro of Qartmin Abbey is made bishop of Amida; he builds a church and a bridge over the Tigris with imperial 

502/3 Death of John Sa'oro shortly before the fatal Persian siege of Amida 
505-7 Expansion and fortification of the village of Dara, which is named Anastasioupolis 

512 Completion of a church and a baptistery at Qartmin Abbey with imperial funds, the architects being Theodore and 
c. 560 Several years of heavy hail destroy the agricultural livelihood of the people of Tur 'Abdin; temporary emigration lo plain 
567 John, abbot of Qartmin, successfully opposes reconciliation with Justin II over the issue of Chalcedon; shortly 
afterwards, he becomes unollicial Syrian Orthodox bishop of Dara 
Nov. 573 Fall of Dara to the Persians 
Jul. 578 Death of Bishop John of Dara, formerly abbot of Qartmin, with Jacob Baradaeus, bishop of Edessa, in Egypt 
58/ Raid by the Persians in Tor Abdin; Qartmin Abbey is sucked and burned 

604/5 Tnc Castle of Tur 'Abdin (to Rhabdios) is taken by the Persians 

614/15 Daniel 'Uzoyo, abbot of Qartmin, becomes, by the intervention of the metropolitan of Mossul, bishop of the metropolitan 
diocese of Dara, which is extended to include Telia; he resides at Qartmin Abbey 
Dec. 633 Death of Daniel 'Uzoyo 

May 634 Gabriel of Beth Qustan succeeds Daniel as bishop of Dara and abbot of Qartmin, where he had previously been rish ahe „ 
639 The Arabs conquer Tur Abdin, establishing a Melkite as governor 5 

Dec. 648 


c . 700 



Jun. 734 


c. 748/9 



SSli* Gabriel of ttc,h Q"-»-«. »■ *hop of T ur 'Abdin; Bishop Sisinnius of Dara was among those attending his 
Consecration by the patriarch Julian of the Syrian Orthodox church of Mo> Theodore hrihhv siml ru 

SX? " """"""" * MayPC " ,a '' b °"' ° f Qar "" in - ' K -«-• *■ *• Syrian bishops a, * synod of 

Dtalh of Simeon of Marran; his disciple. Thomas, also a monk of Qanmin. becomes bishop of Harran after him 
Thomas of Barcan and Lazarus of Tur 'Abdin prescn, a. a synod in Arbin Abbey " "" 

Death of Thomas of Harran 

Synodical election by ioi. under the unanimously chosen supervision of Athanasius of Mayperqa,, of the patriarch 

The tide •Metropolitan of Mesopotamia (Ja*,ra)- recorded for Athanasius of Mayperqat ( = Athanasius Sandlovo, 
Athanasius, of Numb village, becomes bishop of Tur 'Abdin "inanasius 1-andloyo) 


bishop of Qartmm and its territory; in Mayperqat he builds a cathedral 8 ' bbo1 ' 

Death of Patriarch Isaac; he is succeeded by Alhanasius of Mayperqat 

Sudden death at Harran of Patriarch Alhanasius; the election of George, a monk of Ocnneshre leads m ,h™ r 

the Qartmmites and their allies, who set up John of Kalhnikos as a countcr^riarch , " ° f 







before 790 



Death in Baghdad of Denis of Harran, monk of Qartmin and former bishop-elect of Tur 'Abdin 

Patriarch George imprisoned at Baghdad; his place is taken by John of Kallinikos, and after his death by David of 

Dara, a monk of Qartmin, both 'anti-patriarchs' with caliphal authority 

Elijah, monk of Qartmin, appointed by David to the see of Edessa; he is driven out with abuse by the people of the city 

The plague strikes 'fur 'Abdin, killing 95 monks at Qartmin Abbey and many at the Monastery of the Cross; 

exhumation of Gabriel of Beth Qus|an 'about 130 years* after his death; his right hand is taken to Hah to ward off the 

plague there 

Patriarch George released from prison; reunification of diocese ofjw 'Abdin 

Bishop George of fur Abdin attested at Qartmin Abbey 

Zechariah, monk of Qartmin, appointed by George to the see of Edessa but dismissed in the following year for 


Bishop Michael of Jur Abdin attested at Qartmin Abbey 

Bishop S[ovo] of Jur Abdin attested at the Monastery of the Cross 

Death of Patriarch George; he is succeeded in 791 by Joseph, a monk of Gubo-Baroyo, monastic confederate of Qartmin 


Death of Patriarch Joseph; he is succeeded in 793 by Cyriac. of the Monastery of the Pillar at Kallinikos, who will 

alienate the Gubiles and the Qartminites and their confederates, the monks of Mor Matthew at Mossul, thus provoking 

the schism marked by disagreement over the 'heavenly bread' formula in the liturgy and the 'anti-patriarchate' of 

Abraham, a monk of Qartmin 

Zechariah of Edessa partially reinstated, as Rural Visitor; Basil, a monk of Qenncshre, appointed bishop of the city 

Synod at l.larran, designed to cement union with the 'Julianisls', is sabotaged by the enemies of patriarch Cyriac, 

amongst whom is Zechariah of Edessa 

Note: Figures and words in italic script derive from inference and are not explicitly attested in the sources. 

Table 2. Recorded building in Aft ASasius (Jutr 'Abdin to Aft Aghlosh) before uoo, dates simplified (e g 772 = 77,12 J 
(omiory-tertitoto; burial vmili-ferA aadishe; conventual church - haykto; church = >id,o) 77 ' ' 

879 uc 

AD 350 

395 + 
409 + 




700 ± 
700 + 
750 ± 
753 ± 


Victory stele set up at Malialc (Midyat) with inscription and portrait of Assurnirirmi n 1Z \ 7, \ 

Castles of Hcsno d-Kifo / Kcphas and Jur <Abdin / to RhabdTos ?L) ^"^^ " <KeSS,er ' "'''*™'«<'f «> 

Qartmin enlarged by imperial benefaction, with church, vault, dome and cisterns ,Z 

Second imperial benefaction, with church, burial vault, sepulchre, chapel and 'conventual church' o 

%£S£^252T"* a ' of Mof Danid on Moum Aghlosh - bum with mo » c > ~ - « h < •*«■ (S 

Conventual church (and baptistery?) at Qartmin. by imperial benefaction ^ """'^ ** ^^^ ***£> 

Refortification of Jur 'Abdtn and the rest of Mt Masius under Justinian I <c„ a c \ tTi . w ' 

Castle of T «r <Abd» rebuilt by the governors JSZ^J^tf^ (Pr ° C ° P ' US ' ***«g 

Monastery founded above that of Mor Abay near Qdclh, with burial vault and conventual church m 

P^rtS ^"JTr' a ' ^r and a * ,hC m ° naS,ery ° f M0r Lazarus * »«' *e latte village 2 

Portico at Qartmin by benefaction of the daughter of the Melkile governor of Dara J[ 

Conventual church in the monastery (?) of Mor John at Hah { } 

Monastery founded above Tell-Beshmay ,^, -, ^ A-2 ^ 

- ■ y ( Cfir - Zuqnm 775, Chr. Qartmin 819) 

Church (conventual church?) in monastery of Mor Jacob of Salah rebuilt ('renewed') 
Antechamber of burial vaults at Qartmin (formerly 'House of the Apostles') renovated 

rh»l° n 'r S T" ^ hUrCh ,° f , M0r Cy " aC at ArnaS ' givinB la,est P° ssible datc for "* «=h"rch itself 
cnurch ol Mor Addai and adjoining oratory at Heshlerek 

Burial vault at the Monastery of the Cross in Beth El 

Jwrf^^'r " Qartmin (f ° mierly ' hC baptis,ery) ° f s,one ^^ding-trough, quarried in 769 
Church of SI Stephen at Kfarbc, as may be inferred from an inscription on it W 

Winepress and (?) extension to (he charnel-house at Qartmin 

Conventual church of the monastery of Sts Sergius and Bacchus at Hal,, giving the date of the monastery? 


(A.8. C.10) 


793 + 

895 ± 



j 167 + 


Hermit's column in the monastery of Mor Lazarus near Habsenus 

Saffron Monastery (Der ez-Za'faran) near Mardin (re?) founded (Dnahisho', in Chr. Michael //05; Can. W-Syr) 

Minor, undated work at Qartmin and at Beth Svirina; also, perhaps, in Qartmin village 

Non-liturgical complex at Qartmin. by patriarchal initiative with the bishop of Jut *Abdin 

Church of Mor Dime! at Zaz 

Oratory adjoining church of Mor Azazael at Kfarze. giving the latest possible dale for the church itself 

Column in monastery of Mor Michael at Mardin, giving the latest possible date for the monastery itself 

Stone grids installed in the windows of the conventual church of Qartmin 

Unidentified building (library?) at Qartmin 

Burial vault and chapel of Mor Aho at the Monastery of the Cross in Beth El renovated 

Unidentified building at the monastery or Mor Moses near Kfarze, giving the latest possible dale for the Monastery (/V16) 

Arcade opposite entrance to conventual church of Sts Sergius and Bacchus at Hah (D.i 1) 

Oratory adjoining the church of Mor Sovo at Hah (/nscr. P 65, checked by Palmer) 

Many buildings, churches, monasteries etc. restored around Mardin by bishop John of that city (Can. W-Syr.) 

Burial vault of monastery of Mor Moses near Kfarze (A. 17) 

Numerous buildings at Beth Svirina. Qartmin and elsewhere in Jur 'Abdin, including two inns (Book of Life) 

Unidentified chamber at Qartmin / A , 8 j 

Church of Mor Podho at Beth Svirina and its yard renovated, vaulted building and cistern added (A. 19) 


(A. 12) 
(A. 13) 
(B.I 2) 
(A. 15) 

Abbreviations: A. B, C, D = tNSCR. A, B, C, D 
Da = Z,. Daniel 
i — L. Jacob 

Q = building records incorporated in the Qarlmin Trilogy 
Qartmin = Qartmin Abbey 
& — L. Simeon of Olives 
T = /.. Thcottotos 

T^AiST"*" ° f,he """**"" ° fh0,y "" '" '*" Ufe ° f San "' d """■ «"«""*» «•"—«*«. fc rt. Cafendar of 

Summary of seclion 12 of Life of Samuel 













Cyrus b. Sufnoyc (cursed a lioness) 
Abraham b. Sawroye (cleansed a leper) 
Abay (spoke with angel on Mt Sinai) 
Simeon (cured a blind man in front of Khusro) 
John b. Gamaliel (healed a cripple) 
Abel, stylitc (visited by Mor Akhsnoyo) 
Stephen (converted pagans on plain) 
Maron (baptized 2,000 in Gozarto d-Shu'o) 
Daniel (walked over Tigris to Corduene) 
Cyrus the elder (healed bone of a camel) 
John (predicted destruction) 
Tuthael, stylitc (resurrected a corpse) 
Zu|o (protected men in a collapsing building) 
Daniel, bishop (approved by heavenly voice) 
Simeon (revealed the true mother of a child) 

Simeon (revealed a murderer) 

Matthew, recluse (visited Chrysostom in exile) 

Jacob, seer (went 10 Ephesus to condemn Nestorius) 

George 1 

Scrgius / 

Thomas j 

Stephen / 

Michael (made a barren woman fertile) 


Abraham / 


(changed water into oil) 
jarren woman fertile) 
(caused a source of water to appear) 

Corresponding entri es in Calendar of Jut 'Abdin 

Dec. 14 
(Dec. 30 
Nov. 18 

Jan. tt 
(Jan. 23 

Aug. 7 
Mar. 19 
Jun. 20 
Dec. 11 
Nov. 10 
(May 1 
Aug. 12 

Cyrus the Young, abbot of Qartmin 

Abraham the scholar) cf. Aug. 2: Gamaliel 

Abay of Huff, abbot of Qartmin 

Simeon of ' Fafa, abbot of Qartmin 

Abbas John; + cf. Aug. 2: Gamaliel) 

Mor Abel, for eye-disease and paralysis 

Stephen, abbot [of Qartmin) 

Maron ofAynwardo, abbot 

Daniel of the Pillar 

Abbot Cyrus 

Mor John of Kafana) 

Tuthael the stylite. who resurrected a corpse 

Dec. 9 Mor Daniel, bishop of Qartmin 
(Apr. 27 Simeon, son of Joseph) 
(Aug. 12 Mor Simeon) 
Jul. 11 Mor Matthew 
Apr. 20 Mor Jacob 
Nov. 3 George, martyr 

May 1 Mor Michael and his sister, of the monastery outside Mardin 
(cf. No. 2) 

26 Jovinian (cursed a harlot) 

27 Simeon the Greek (had a company of fifty) 

28 'Ammi (martyred in Tanezin) 

29 Lazarus (martyred by Persian sword) 

30 John of Kallinikos (doused cultic fire) 

31 Severus the Short (destroyed cultic tree) 

32 John Psaltes (had vision of relics at Harbath Tutho) 

33 Talyo (called down fire on a house of idols) 

34 Athanasius (baptized all the Jews in vicinity) 

35 Theodosius (martyred in lime-kiln) 

36 Elijah (abstained from cooked food) 

37 Bar-hadh-b-shabo (healed the eye of a child) 

38 Sufanyo (loved quiet and solitude) 

39 Abraham (vowed not to speak) 

40 Abo [bishop] of Arzon (converted (by) Armenians) 

41 Slivo (made rain fall) 

42 Joshua (stopped infant mortality in Mayperqa)) 

43 Moses (sang with angels) 

44 Job (outfaced savage lion) 

45 Gabriel (escorted by angels from his death-bed) 

46 Joseph (in irons from childhood) 

47 Simeon (in cave until death) 

48 John (pleased his Lord) 

49 Timothy (ate only dry pulses) 

50 Ananias (exorcized demon from girl) 

51 Isaac (caused demons to flee) 

52 Gregory (caused demons to flee) 

53 Constantine (converted an evil rich man) 

Nov. 18 Simeon the Greek 

Sept. 30 Mor Hmmi, Bishop of Jur Abdin, martyred in Janezi 

Aug. 3 Lazarus, confessor 

(Mar. 27 John) 

Jan. 29 Severus of Kfarso, abbot of Qartmin 

Dec. 13 John Psaltes (cf. Dec. 12: relics of Harbtho d-Tutho) 

Feb. 1 Mor Jalyo 

Nov. 26 Theodosius the bishop, martyred in a lime-kiln 

Mar. 8 

Apr. 29 

(cf. No. 2) 

Jan 28 

Uar-hadh-b-shabo/Apr. 10: Mor Bar-hadh-b-shabo 
Sufanyo, abbot of Qartmin 

Mor Aho, bishop of Arzon 

Dec. 23 Death of Mor Gabriel of Beth Qusfau 

Mar. 1 Joseph 
(Sept. 18 Mor Simeon) 
(Aug. 21 Mor John) 

Jan. 22 Timothy 
Nov. 21 Mor Ananias 

Note: Identifications made with certainty are italicized in the right-hand column. 

Fig. 48. Crosses on .lone from Jm Abdin and iis environs. A. Church of Mor Sovo. Hah I) Oclaaon at 
V ranschtr; C Detail of mscrip.ion A.2. showing vandalisation of cross; D. Vault of convemualchurch o 

Sis SemuVZ f £St. hCk ? V" ^' Ch lhccrosshas b « n vandaliscd.on west side of convemualchurch of 
Sis Scrgius and Bacchus. Hah; I . Lintel stone in rums north of church of Mor Jacob. Salah- J K Oartmin- 1 
Arcoso lumofbuna Chamber, monastery of Mor Theodo.os.QclethjM.N.OQar nUn;P QartSlma^ 
stone oeanng INbtfi. A.18; U. On jumb of church of Mor Stephen, K far be 

G = 



L V 

M v 

+ ; 








Appendix: The early inscriptions of Tur c Abdin 

A. Introduction 

ora doorway on wh«ch anaem letters arc inscribed is like rinding a meteor, a palpable messenger 
from heaven The meteor is consumed by heat on its trajectory through the atmosphere, but 

S^Sf I IT""". 1 !? P ° nentS t0 makc " va,uab,c ,0 thc **"*• The inscriptions of 

™ ' th "£. m ^ nplion from ancicm < imcs is ™ object of awe; it is often believed to 


a ™'™ st ™* cnl Jy™ inscription of Tur Abdin was surrounded with rocks and 

il V ^° " ° ken m tW ° and U,C tCXt *•" ^ di5fi « ured b y a gunshoi (fig. 49). 
Who formed he wntmg on the monuments of Tur Abdin and how? What prompted them to 

from thoseofGreco : Romane P igr ap hy?Did they have models outside the realm of epigraphy for 
thar craft and for their style and, if so. what does that signify? These are some of thVgeneral 
questions whtch I shall attempt to answer in the course of this survey, not systemati ca^ou 
incidentally and cumulatively. «"«u*-uiy, out 

JEHU!!. r ° 0n ? hcrefor P articu,ar q u «^ns, too. Individual commentaries on the inscriptions 

^ P " K , ebre V tyofthercfcrcnMS,0 ^ min theforegoingcha P ,ers.Theuseofe P igraphk 
records in historical enquiry .s not unproblematical, nor is a text engraved on stonelilways 
contemporary w,th the event it commemorates. Moreover, the stonecutter himself can introduce 

^urLr^T ? , ,S 'S?* ^ ,aC ° niC * uncmwional 'dennitiveness' of most memorials 
obscures their subjectivity. What they omit can also be important 

In several ways this survey goes beyond the scope of the narrative to which it is appended 

Most obv,ously, ,t gwes sporadic insights into the Dark Age of T ur Abdin, between the eighth 


jottings ui the Book of L,fe, occasional brief references in chronicles and the testimony of 

andpa rt .cularlyonthemonas^^ 
inscnpuons in the villages of Tur Abdin. 

hJf" a0y ^f in . tC ^ r thC archaeo, °8y of Tur Abdin, these inscriptions, many of which 

w!Zr f ^ i ^ «° re " "* °/ 8 " al Va,Ue - ' haVC tried t0 make il PO«ible for the reader 
without any knowledge of Synac to form a judgement in questions relating to inscriptions The 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 20! 

translations given here are literal and preserve as far as possible not the word order but the 
grammatical structure of the original. Square brackets indicate where a damaged area has been 
restored without thc help of traces on the stone, or else left blank. Uncertain readings and 
restorations arc printed in italics. Round brackets are used for extra words and comments added 
by me. 

B. A.l 1 and the tablet' as an epigraphtc setting 

Although it antedates the other Syriac inscriptions of Tur Abdin by nearly two hundred years, 
A. I (fig. 49) does not stand in an epigraphic vacuum. It was found at Qartmin Abbey, which had 
contacts with the centre of the Byzantine world in the early sixth century; there iseven a fragment 
of a Greek mosaic inscription in the conventual church built by order of the emperor Anastasius 
and finished in 51 2. The stele and the tabula ansata which form the setting of A. i are modelled on 
those of the Hellenistic world. The round arch above the text contained a relief sculpture which is 
another sign of this influence. No other stele and no other sculptures are found in the setting of the 
later inscriptions of Tur Abdin. Yet the tabula ansata provides an apparent link with those 
inscriptions: B. 1 (fig. 50). of the mid-eighth century, is also set on a raised 'tablet' with 'handles', 
though it differs from A.i in its proportions and in having a serrated edge. Many other 
inscriptions are framed by a plain rectangular incision or a zig-zag line in relief (cf. fig. 51), to 
which is often added a single 'handle' (rather than two, as in A. J and, presumably, B.i), below, 
above, to the right, or to the left (fig. 52). 

The flexibility of this model suggests that the masons were not following a convention of 
which the origin had been forgotten, but actually had in mind the schoolboy's hand-held exercise 
tablet. Indeed, 'tablet' seems to have been a technical term for the rectangular setting of a normal 
inscription in Tur Abdin, whether or not the text was on a raised plaque or framed by an incision 
(cf. B.3, Inscrr. P 35, 115). 

Thc only certainty about the contents of A. 1 is that it was neither an epitaph nor a building 
memorial. Since nearly all the inscriptions of Tur Abdin fall into one or other of these categories, 
this alone makes it exceptional. It describes the escape, from an unidentified danger, of a number 
of priests on one day specified in February, March, April, May or August of the year 534 (cf. pp. 

A. ( On the fourth day [of (month) of the yejar eight hundred and forty-five, in the days of M(or 

Seve]t[us Karyo, the a]bbol. the priest (Isjaiah [ ] and Mor Maron I ) and ( ), priest and 

so'uro escaped (. . . .]. 

Thc only abbot of Qartmin commemorated in the Calendar of Jut 'Abdin whose name can be 
made to fit the traces is Severus Karyo (the cognomen means 'the Short'). On the title souro, see 
Chapter 3, n. 117. 

C. C.I as the trigger of a fashion for building-memorials? 

After A. 1 there is an interval of just over two centuries before the next dated inscription. But the 
undated C.t, a laconic building record, may be earlier, since Elustriya can be identified as a 
governor of Dara who was alive in the 690s (sec p. 167): 

C.t Patricia, the daughter of Elustriya, made this portico. 

Like A.i, this inscription is at Qartmin Abbey, though not in its original position (cf. p. 224). 
Everything in it speaks of Greco-Roman culture: the names, which are derived from Byzantine 

1 This form of reference, equivalent to INSCR. A.i. refers to the Corpus published in OC 71 (1987). 

204 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 



Irirw itinera c\y<i &*-& j^j ^ii -in^ 

Fig. 51. fSSCR. B.i 3 of c.1105, commemorating the Seljuk raid on Qartmin in 1 too 

court titulature; the fact that thedonation was made by an aristocratic woman; even the nature of 
her donation (it is not an accident that Syriac has no native word for 'portico*). The very habit of 
writing such records on stone may have been Byzantine rather than Syrian until C.I set the 
fashion in Tur Abdin. For suddenly, in the eighth century, a large number of inscriptions, mostly 
building records, appear in the region. 

Several of these inscriptions use passive verbs: 'it was built', it was renovated 1 , 'it was raised' 
but a large number, perhaps following C.i. use the active verb 'he made'. In C.t this means' 
funded ; but in A A for example, the only source of funds who is mentioned is the bishop, 
George and that Zcchariah of Aynwardo 'made' the stone slab in question must mean that he 
quarried and I prepared it or supervised that work. (Perhaps Zechariah was a stone-mason 
himself. Uke his brother Cyril, who expertly chiselled the inscription.) A.8 shows how the verb 
could be used to cover the various ways in which an abbot and his financial officers, together with 
three archttectsf?), participated in the erection of a winepress. Elsewhere, the subject of the verb 
seems to be merely the figure-head of the community; B. 1 1 records that the reigning patriarch of 
Antioch and the rcgning bishop of Tur Abdin 'made' a non-liturgical complex of rooms at 
Qartmin Abbey. 

-Appendix; the early inscriptions 205 

No MAO 1 501 


So )) ADUW 

_ _![!_ 


■ V 

No 113 

j ADitn 



X No 

10) AO 

iir f 

1— ***■» »nit :***•; t.-t. 

So III AD llll 

E'*-i-*7r ..^fi^i'i 

Fig. 52. Inscription frames with handles from Jur Abdin. dated 101 1-1508 (after H. Pognon). Thewriungon 
each rum vertically 

D. A.2 and the dating formulas used in the inscriptions 

On the first reading, A.2 might appear to use the verb, 'he made* in a literal sense. It is coupled 
with a verb meaning 'he attended to it' (the superfluous words 'and by the attentiveness' at the end 
were perhaps left for reasons of visual symmetry, regardless of the sense, while what followed 
them was carefully erased, probably because it reduplicated the beginning in error). It is 
emphasized that 'no one helped him'; and the words 'from his work' also help to produce the 
impression that the donor built the church by a single-handed effort. However, it is more likely 
that the words 'from his work* refer to the source of the funds donated and we should probably 
understand the verbs 'help' and 'attend to' in financial terms, as, elsewhere in the inscriptions, we 
should understand the word 'care*. The inscription is dated 739/40; it surrounds an ornate 
sanctuary entrance in the ruined monastery (?) of Mor John, near Hah: 

A.2 G attendedtoitandmadethistemp!eofiheHouseoflheMolheroflGJod(. ..] from bis work 

{ I and no one helped him; so may God. for whose Name's sake he made it, make him worthy of 

the Kingdom of Heaven and (pardon] his departed ones in the year one thousand] and fifty-one of 
Alexander, in the days oflhe holy Mor AthanasiusT. patriarch, and the venerable Mor LazarusT, 
bishop, and by (the) attentiveness [. . .|t 

206 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

The synchronism with the reigning Syrian Orthodox patriarch of Antioch ('patriarch' is lo be 
understood m this sense in Tur Abdin) and with the bishop of Tur Abdin allow the date to be 
completed (cf. p. 159). Sometimes, tike theauthor of C. i, the subject, or subjects, of inscriptions 
suppose that their name, or names, alone will be sufficient to date the event for posterity (e g 
B. 1 1 ). The vital coordinates, however, are the patriarch and the bishop; B.9 adds the abbot and 
three of his monastic officers and B.t2 mentions the Head of the Brothers. More often such 
synchronisms are preceded (as in A.2) by a date in the Seleuctd era. variously referred to as 'the 
year of Alexander', 'the year of Greeks'. 'the year of the blessed Greeks' (D.u andD 12 dated 
1 125 and 1 126). 'the year in that (i.e. the reckoning) of the Greeks' or 'the year of Greece' 
Sometimes (as m A.i) the Selcucid date is given but the era is not named. In A.l 1 and A n 'the 
year of the Arab(s)' refers to the date after the Hijra in the Islamic lunar reckoning: a significant 
aberration from the norm. 

A. 1 6 is the only inscription which places the date after the synchronism. Elsewhere the date 
comes first, then the formula 'in the days of X', where X is the abbot, the patriarch plus the 
bishop, or the btshop plus the village rector. C.2 has the formula twice, once before the patriarch's 
name and once before that of the bishop, which helps to pinpoint an interpolation; another 
variation will be seen below, in B.t. 

E. B.I-8: a village contributes to the cost of a monastic church 

B. 1 (fig. 50) is of great importance for the history of architecture. It was discovered in 1984 in the 
conventual church of the monastery of Mor Jacob at Salah by the Reverend Stephen Roundell 
Palmer, whose mountaineering skill enabled B.5-8 to be recorded. The date is fixed by the 
synchronism of patriarch and bishop between c.752 and 755; a tentative restoration, from B 8 of 
the last digit would give June 753 as the exact dale: 

B. I This [church] was renovated (in the] month of June of the year one thousand and sixty-{W ofl 
Alexander in the days of our blessed patriarch Mor Yohanis and (our] venerable bishop Mor 
Cynacand in the days of Mor Theophilus. [abjbot of this abbey and Simeon (the son of] Sergius 
me so uro; the administrator was Daniel (. . .] 

The last seven lines are too much eroded to yield more than a few isolated characters. This uneven 
erosion helps lo confirm that B.i was originally in the wall above the western doorway in the 
south facade, where a cornice protected the upper part of it from the rain (see Garsoian et al eds 
East of Byzantium (1982), pi. 31). It was removed and placed in the south chamber of the 
sanctuary as the support of an altar, no doubt in the hope of preventing further erosion. The right 
side of the inscription was chipped away in the process of loosening the block from its place in the 

The name of the abbot Theophilus appears again, painted on one of the voussoirs of the 
northern bracing arch in the vault over the nave: 

B.2 Theophilus, abbot. 

Not far from this is another painted inscription, otdipinto. which may also have contained the 

abbot s name. It is above the entrance to the sanctuary and directly below the first brickwork of 

the vault, on one of the blocks of the uppermost stone course in the east wall of the nave: 

B.j May the Lord be the Giver of good rewards to every individual who has had a part and has oven a 

blessed gift in this House, and especially to those who are from this village, whose names are 

wnttenon this tablet: Sovo. the son or Elijah: 130 (zuze); Daniel, the sonof Aho: 1 20 zfiz*; Sergius 

the son of Peter: 1 50: Gabriel, theson of Lazarus: , 5 o; Aho, the son of Elijah: 100; Gabriel, the son 

of. .. 50; Shayno, theson of Aihanasius: ico; John, the son of Sergius: 60 (or 30); Qafuno Hayay 

20: . . the smith: 1 5: Lazarus, the son of . . .: 1 0; Qusino: 10; Jacob, the son of Elisha: to- [Jo\b the 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 207 

son of the priest: 5; [Rube\\, the so[n of . . .): 6; Simeon, the son of Zu(o: 1 0; Abraham, the son of 
Zu|o: 10 zuze; Lazarus, the son of (. . .|s: 5; [Theophilus, theajbbot, the son of Sergius: 5; lyor, the 
son of Matthew: 6; Jesse, the so[ft of . . .]: 5; G. . . the son of Jo(hn]: 8; Elijah: 5; Elisha: 10; Joshua, 
the son of . . .: 1 5; Abo. the son of Elijah: 4; Aho, the cobbler 5; and there are some who (gave) one 
(zuze) each; and may God bless every one who participated in it. 

The historical importance of this inscription is evaluated on pp. 1 86-7; it gives us a unique cross- 
section of a village society, the members of which were surely eager to obtain a place in the list by a 
donation commensurate with their means. It is no surprise to find that the money was in the 
hands of the menfolk; we may assume that the two sons of Elijah in the upper bracket of wealth 
were brothers and the same applies to the two sons of Zufo in the middle bracket; the smith was 
three times as wealthy as the cobbler. 

This inscription throws up several other problems: Why is the son of the priest mentioned, but 
not the priest? Why is the abbot listed here as a villager with only a modest sum against his name? 
Why did the villagers club together to build a church in the monastery instead of building one 
which their wives and children could use in the village? 

There is another dipinto on the vault of the western antechamber: 

B.4 I. the deacon Abiahafra] 

The rest of the inscriptions on this church are engraved in the stone of the north facade: B.5 along 
the horizontal cornice on the west side; B.6 and B.7 in the eastern part of the triangular pediment; 
B.8 above B.5 in the western part of the same: 

B.5 I, Joshua, the deacon, the son of the priest, pray for me! 

B.6 (Insufficiently preserved to be usefully represented in translation) 

B.7 [/, Theo\philus, [abbot, and] I, l[oshua\, the deacon, from the same abbey, who exerted ourselves in 

(building) this House [. . .) 
B.8 (. . .( and four (...) in the days of our venerable and h[ol\y bishop [Mor Cyriac ...] this (...] and every 

one who participated in it. whether in word or in deed, may God give him a good reward, by (the 

prayers] of all the saints, for ever and cvfer). 

The letter-forms of B. 1-8 are sufficiently alike to sustain the hypothesis that all these inscriptions 
are contemporary. B.5-8 showed traces of the paint which had been used to pick them out: it was 
the same burnt sienna colour as that used in B.2-4 and in the decoration of the vaults and of the 
tympanum over the sanctuary entrance. No doubt B. 1 was also picked out in this colour. It was 
certainly intended to be easily read and to stand out from the wall, attracting the attention of 
anyone entering the church through the doorway beneath. The long rectangular blocks of which 
the church is constructed are laid horizontally: but that on which B. 1 is engraved stood vertically 
across two courses and the text was on a raised tablet with a serrated edge, which would have cast 
an unusual shadow. 

If the first line of B. 1 had been totally obliterated, it would have been easy to suppose that it 
recorded the construction rather than the 'renovation* of the church. The distinctive position of 
the block bearing B. 1 in the south wall rules out the possibility that the inscription is later than the 
construction of the wall. Yet there is a seamless integrity in the structure of the wholechurch, with 
the exception of some obviously recent additions to the roof and to the antechamber and a partial 
restoration of the central portion of the south facade. We are driven to the conclusion that the so- 
called 'renovation* was nothing less than a full-scale reconstruction; the old church was not 
renewed but replaced. The inscriptions on the vaults and on the high northern pediment were 
made while the original scaffolding was in place. 2 

2 Thechurch of M or Azazael fZozoyel) at Kfarze has projecting blocks in the north and west facades in a 
regular pattern of horizontal and diagonal alignments and at equal intervals, like the knots in a fishing-net 
(see Bell/Mango. TA. pis. 152-4). These were used to secure the scaffolding during construction; they were 

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commemoration' is likely lo have been written in Elijah's lifetime. Likewise, a memorial written 
shortly after Elijah's death would not have made the error of dating that event some 15 years 
before the construction of the screen; yet the phrase 'son of the late departed Mor Abraham' 
seems to have been written while Abraham's death was in the recent past. 

The solution to these paradoxes lies in the complex process by which the text was generated. 
The original memorials were jotted down in a book, probably in the Gospel Book which stood in 
front of the altar. The first read as follows: 

In the year 1072 of Alexander the priest and rector Elijah made the kalastrtma of this church in the 
days of the venerable bishop, Mor Cyriac, May God. for Whose holy Name's sake he made (it) 
with eagerness, make for his departed ones a good commemoration for ever! Amen. 

The second was identical with the second part of the inscription, except that it had the year 1078 
written m alphabetical abbreviation. The letter signifying '70' was mistaken by the stonecutter for 
asimilar letter, which signifies '50*. {The same confusion explains the corrupt date for the death of 
Gabriel of Beth Qusfan: see pp. 156-8). At some date in the ninth century, to judge by the letter 
forms, it was decided to give greater publicity to these 'memoranda' by inscribing them in stone 
on the chancel-screen itself. The question of preserving them may have arisen when the Gospel 
Book in which they were written grew old and needed to be replaced. Following the cpigraphic 
conventions as to dating formulas, the stonecutter added a synchronism with the patriarch. But 
there were five patriarchs contemporary with the bishop Cyriac; and the stonecutter, who was 
perhaps relytng on oral tradition, chose the wrong one. It is interesting that Isaac was selected 
The official record office of the patriarchate had struck him out as uncanonical. But perhaps 
Arnas was well disposed to him because he came from Tur Abdin: Isaac had been a monk of 

H. Brevity and abbreviation in the inscriptions 

The fact that a date in alphabetical abbreviation was corrupted in the process of being engraved in 
full words by the cutter of C.2 makes this a suitable place to consider the subject of abbreviation in 
the inscriptions generally. Why is abbreviation less common in the inscriptions of Tur Abdin 
than in Greek and Latin epigraphy (cf. DACL VILcoIs. 627-3 1: 729-34). less, even, than in hand- 
written Synac texts? The only formulaic phrase which is abbreviated more than once is 'those 
who participated*. There are many other formulas (e.g. *in the days or, the year of Alexander' 
'the year of the Greeks', let every one who reads (this) prav for him', 'he went out of this world 
and departed to his Lord,' etc.) which might have been shortened for epigraphic purposes. But 
apart from a handful of accidentally conditioned abbreviations, i.c. such as are attributable not 
to a system but to immediate shortage of space, the recognized abbreviations ofepigraphy in Tur 
Abdin fall into two categories: ecclesiastical titles ('patriarch', 'metropolitan', 'bishop', 'rector* 
'pnest* and 'deacon'; not stock epithets, such as 'blessed' for a patriarch or 'venerable' for a 
bishop) and numbers ('one thousand* is only once found abbreviated; the hundreds are abbrevi- 
ated in A. 1 5 , A. 16, A. 19 and B. to; the tens only, in A. 1 9 and B. 1 3; the units only, in B. I ; the tens 
and the units in A.5, A.6, A. 1 5 and A. 16). The lower ecclesiastical titles and the higher numbers 
are less commonly abbreviated. 

The explanation is probably to be sought both in the isolation in which epigraphy in Tur 
'Abdin developed (having no examples it did not occur to them to invent a special system of 
epigraphic abbreviations) and in the very solemnity of the monumental medium (abbreviations 
permissible to a senbe might haveseemed slipshod and unsuitable when carved in stone) Perhaps 
the masons were also aware, when they engraved dates in full words, of the ease with which a date 
written in alphabetical abbreviation could be misread or damaged beyond recognition. The one 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 21 1 

place where 'one thousand* was represented by a single letter is on a tomb in the monastery of Mor 
Michael outside Mardin; that letter has been obliterated so that, instead of ag 1496 (ad 1 184/5), 
Jarry could read ac 496 (ad 184/5: Inscr. J 66). (The same mistake must lie behind Parry's report 
in Six Months in a Syrian Monastery (1895), p. 78.) 

Instead of a system of abbreviations, the masons of Tur Abdin opted for brevity: a clipped 
style with conventional condensations of meaning. Some of these condensations were discussed 
in connection with A.2. In addition we may cite the phrase 'pardon him' meaning 'say: "God 
pardon him!'" (B.12, tnscrr. P 25-31, 65, 98). In B. 13 we read: "The names of the bishops of this 
abbey from 1 160', where a Syriac scribe would normally have written: 'The names of those 
bishops of this abbey who arose after the year 1 160'. Particles and conjunctions are reduced to a 
minimum: just one of each kind is represented! 

I. A.5, C.3 and A. 12: the outdoor oratories of T"' Abdin 

The two decades from 771/2 to 791/2 have yielded seven dated inscriptions. These are best dealt 
with thematically. In the context of these themes some of the undated inscriptions will be 

The first theme is given by A.5, an inscription which no longer exists, because the church of 
Mor Addai at Heshterek and the outdoor oratory beside it have been destroyed to their 
foundations. Pognon, who recorded the inscription, explicitly rejected the possibility that it had 
been moved from another position to be built into the apse of the oratory. It therefore proves that 
the oratory and the church ofMor Addai were contemporary {pace Bell/Mango, 771, pp. 1 18-19; 
cf. ibid., pi. 151). They are dated 771/2: 

A.5 In the year one thousand and eighty-three of the Greeks this church was raised by Habib. the 
sinner, and lyor. the rector, and the rest of the priests who were with them. Pray for all who 

Iyor (the name, unknown lo Pognon, is attested by B.3 and by the Life of Simeon of the Olives, p. 
239 (Dolabani, p. 1 53], summary, p. 1 78) was the 'church-head' or rector of Mor Addai (cf. C.2); 
to judge from the phrase 'and the rest of the priests who were with them', Habib belonged to 
lyor's team of priests, which included at least two others, rlabib's prominence in the inscription is 
therefore due to something other than hierarchical precedence. Was he a master stonemason or 
by far the most generous donor? Perhaps the verb 'was raised*, unique to A.5. holds a clue to the 
nature of his contribution? 

The apse of an outdoor oratory (in Syriac: beth slutho) was a good place for inscriptions: light, 
but sheltered, and accessible to all. The apse at Heshterek contained 2t epitaphs in addition to 
A.5. The oratory of Mor Sovo at Hah shows seven epitaphs. There are two epitaphs in that of 
Mor Dodho at Beth Svirina and an inscription around the archivolt of the apse which dated the 
oratory. Unfortunately, all but the last digit of the date, which was six, has been obliterated, 
leaving ambiguous traces of what came before it. The following reconstruction is supported by a 
comparison of the cross carved in relief in the apse with that in the apse of the church of Mor 
Cyriac at Arnas (see fig. 53), dated by C.2 before 760/ 1 , and by the letter forms, which may point 
to the later eighth century: 

C.3 (. . .| with holy praise [ the year one thousand] and one hun[dredand\ six of{the Greeks] (794/5) 
was built [this] beth jsluthol; the priest Theodofios wrote (this). 

The only other dated outdoor oratory in T"r Abdin is that of Mor Azazael in Kfarze (ad 934/ 5): 

A. 1 2 This beth slutho was bilt built (the word was misspelled, then written again) in the year one 
thousand two hundred and forty-six of the Greeks in the days of Mor lwannis, our bishop, and 
Mor Addai. the rector, and Thomas. 


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2 1 4 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

conditions and the lack of nimh-ccntury building records from the villages suggest that the latter 
were tn recession (cf. Chapter 6). 

A.6 Zechariah or Aynwardo made (this) in the year one thousand and eighty of .he Greeks (768/9) in 
the House of the Bear*; and from the moment when heaged (i.e. felt unequal to the task by reason 
of otdage). he entreated IsaiahofFofyath.hisshawshbino (i.e. relative by sponsorship), to bringit 
( Sft T* a " d Isa,ah took 8 rcat P ains ™* (so did) all the sons (i.e. inmates) of the monastery 
and hey brought it and pohshed it and put it in its place in the year one thousand and eightyeiglu 

( 2Z3 '" . k yS ° f <£*?• T bish0p: and he <*' the bish °P> Mpcd with the cost oHt 
according to his power. Cyril of Aynwardo engraved (this). 

The object on which these words are inscribed is a fawn-coloured stone slab (fig. 54) measuring 
3.30 x 1.40 x 0.40 m with a rajsed rim around the upper surface and a hole in one corner which 
served as a drain. On one side the rim bulges where a bowl is carved out ofit. Until 1 973 it stood in 
the centre of the nave of the conventual church at Qartmin, in front of the entrance to the 
sanctuary where it was used as a book-stand, replacing the northern and southern lecterns which 
serve m a Syrian Orthodox church for the antiphonal chanting of the regular Hours (cf. Pognon 

table (Preusser, Baudenkmaler, pp. 3 1 - 2 ). There was an oven in the masonry base on which it was 
set (sec Chapter 4, n. 13 1). 

Section 19 of the Life of Gabriel was written with reference to this inscription and this slab 
I here are minor discrepancies as to the measurements (ucxxi .4-5) and the colour (lxxxi 2) of 
the slab; but the two texts agree that it was quarried* in Beth Debch ('the House of the Bear'is an 
etymological penphrasis for Beth Debch, now Badibbe, four hours' ride to the south of Qartmin 
cf.LXXxi.6[ i ,c')andA.Socin,ZZ)A/(735( I 88i), p .262). that it took seven or eight years tofinish' 
and that all the tnmates of the monastery had a hand in transporting it. The author of the Life 
must have felt confident that his audience would not read the inscription and sec that he had 
suppressed names and dates to sustain the pious fiction that the slab was commissioned by 
Gabriel, who died in 648! y 

According to thesame LifeofGabriehbcslib was originally placed in thedomed octagon near 
the church where .t now stands. There, next to the long vaulted chamber which was used as a 
kitchen, it served as a kneading-trough on which the dough was prepared for the bread used bv 
the community. ' 

In the plague of 774. which was surely a factor contributing to the delay in the production of 

775, P. 368 [Chabot, p. 1 86]). If the remnant nevertheless continued to invest in the transportation 
of the slab they must have had both funds and numbers sufficient to merit large-scale centralized 

At a later date, when the community dwindled, the slab was placed in the church above an 
oven and used for the production of altar-breads for the Liturgy. The elements of the Eucharistic 
Sacrifice were often prepared inside a Syrian church. This is what explains the presence of a small 
grape-treading basin in the chapel of St John the Baptist at Kfarbe 

'Mor Zechariah of Aynwardo and his brother Cyril' were among the disciples of Simeon of 
the Ohves, who died m 734 (see p. ,63). The title 'Mor' probably distinguishes Zechariah as a 
pnested monk, wh,ch would mean he was over 30 years old at the time of writing. He may well 
havebeen .over 70 when he began to supervise the production of the slab, so it is no wonder thalhe 
was significantly enfeebled during the next seven or eight years. 

3 The Qartmin Trilogy contains three references fxxvn ?- irv .-»- 1 w», .w~ .u ■ ■ - . 


Appendix: the early inscriptions 215 

The fact that Zechariah was a monk may mean that he acted as baptismal and/or marital 
sponsor for Isaiah, who lived in the nearby village of Fofyath, also called Kfarbe. It is true that 
this kind of relationship between monks and laymen was forbidden in a canon of 878 (Can. W- 
Syr. it, p. 54 (No. 6)); but that also shows that it existed unchecked before that date. Alternatively, 
the two men may have inherited the relationship; for we see from another canon (Can. W-Syr. n, 
p. 62 (No. 14)), that it was hereditary and, indeed, constituted a prohibited degree in marriage for 
longer than a blood-tie. 

Another inscription attesting the good health of the economy at Qartmin is dated 784/5; il was 
extracted from a wall where the inscribed surface had lain hidden. The present author discovered 
it, in company with Malfono tsa Gulten. in 1978: 

In the year one thjousandj and ninety-six (of Greece! in the days of Mor Geo(rge) and Mor 
Michael, the b{ishop), the abbot, Mor Denho, and Gadal[iah] of Arnas, the administrator], and 
Aaron, thesandal-mak(er] and steward, and Micah and Joshua (and Alexander, [the architects, 
made this winepress. 

The omission of the patriarch's title is an offence against protocol. This might be construed as 
intentional, since enmity between George and Qartmin is attested at the time of his election (see 
Chapter 5, n. 227). On the other hand, it may have been a mistake, which motivated the 
concealment of the flawed text. 

The building from which A.8 was extracted stands to the north-east of the conventual church 
(figs. 32 and 33). It is known as the Old Library, because the 41 masonry compartments in one of 
its walls have been taken to be cubby-holes for books. But the total absence of windows makes it 
more likely that it was a charnel-house, the compartments in the wall being designed to display 
the piled up skulls which were counted whenever the burial vaults and mausolea were cleared of 
bones (cf. Chapter 3, n. 173). The other bones would have been heaped up in store-rooms and, as 
the sum of bones mounted continuously, extensions would have been needed to accommodate 
them. Such extensions are indeed found in the 'Old Library'. 

The charnel-house of Qartmin contains a number of inscriptions' moulded in plaster on the 
underside of its arches. The abbot Isaiah (C.7) appears to have built the north-west chamber, 
while the abbot Dcnbo (C. io) left his name on an arch of the high corridor by which the rooms of 
the charnel-house communicate with one another. The lalter's contribution to the structure was 
more substantial than a mere extension. 

If this Denho is the same as the abbot named in A.8 (the similarity of the letter-forms allows 
this possibility), then the theory that A.8 was concealed as a reject is probably right, because it was 
extracted from the same wall in which the arch bearing C. 10 was built (fig. 55). This identification 
would indicate that the abbey was carrying out other improvements to its buildings at the time 
when the winepress was built. 

C.7 The abbot Isaiah made (this). 

C.8 (. . -1 of Mayperqaf [. . } house. 

C.9 (. . .) house (. . .( John [. . .J. 

C. to In the days of Mor Denho, the abbot, [the so]n ofG[. . .). 

C. 1 1 [Rabba)a [Dani\ei, a senior monk, renovated and built (onto) [this house]. Pray for him! 

South of the charnel-house is an arcade with a plaster-moulded memorial (cf. figs. 2 and 1 4). The 
letter-forms may indicate the eighth century: 

C. 5 [...the administrator] and §liv[o, the steward, and the Hcjad of the Brothers, Peter, \mad\e [this] 
a[rcade. The builders were] Joshua, Abu Zakhary. Pray [for them|! 

The other undated inscriptions of Qartmin Abbey (C.4, C.6 and C.12) and the inscription from 
Qartmin Village (C.13) are of little or no use to the historian, so I omit them here. 

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3 •< 3 3 

« * *» 3 

n Jo a 

ft JS 3 V 

fr •* *< 3 

o :- s- s 

p « ^ "g 

\t* V 3 ft 


g ac 
2, 3 - 


Q. § o 


ft " -^ 

P- 3 -S- 

ft w 


o •»> 

3 S 


Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Tur Abdin, but it is indirectly relevant, in that it attests monastic expansion in the immediate 
vicinity of a city, a phenomenon concomitant with the desertion of the highlands (cf. pp. 185-*): 

Al3 £?oi!r« r f K G °?w iS C ° IUmn W3S bUJlt in the year thnc hundred and fi "y of «* Arabs (20 
uTcbuildiogont! 962) - LetCVeryonc whoreads ('his)prayforMaro n the monk (whojtookcareof 

This inscription is on a square tower supporting a later bell-tower in the monastery of Mor 
Michael just to the south of Mardin (fig. 56). An entry undenMayin the Calendar of T ur 'Abdin 
reads: Moi -Michael and his sister (whose monastery is)outside the southern gate of Mardin- and 
.t is called the Monastery of the Column' (cf. Barsawm, Histoiredu couventdeS. Hanania (19,7) 
p. 24: .t «s also called - in Arabic - the Monastery of the Fish; also Parry, Six Months in a Syrian 
Monastery (1895), pp. 73-9). 'The Monastery of the Column' was surely so named after the 
henrnt s column (cf. A.9) commemorated in A.i 3; it was among the monuments around Mardin 
restored about 1250-5 by Moses, abbot of Mor Abay above Qeleth (Inscr P 93) 

Certain indicauons of Islamic influence in A. 1 3 suggest that Syriac culture was on the wane at 
this time and that the town of Mardin was already predominantly Arab. The opening of the 
inscription echoes the Arabic, bismiltah, and has no parallel in Syriac epigraphy. The year from 
the Htjra, moreover, is very rarely used by Syriac sources in preference to the Seleucid era 

Another sign of decadence is that the stonecutter who engraved A.13 was unable to sustain a 
pure Esirangelo or Old Syriac style of lettering and mixed all the scripts together. When Bishop 
John of Tur Abdin revived the ancient script c. IO oo, it had been 'out of use* in his diocese for a 
hundred years (Chr. Gregory a, cols. 417, 419). 

The life of the remaining monks in Tur Abdin was insecure towards the end of the tenth 
century; thts.smd.cated by the fact that the conventual church at Qartmin was secured with stone 
wmdow-gnds in 988/9. The evidence is a fragment of one of the grids, which was extracted in 

A. 14 [. . the year of one thousand and) three hundred. 


A.10 and A.1I: epitaphs at Midun and at Zaz 

If the tenth century is poor in building records, it is rich in epitaphs. In 911 or in 9I4 a nun was 
buned in Midun, the earliest recorded female religious in Tur Abdin: 

A. 10 fin the yearj one (housand two hundred and lwenty[three/six] of the Greeks, on the feast of the 
Na i(v,ty) of our Lo«Uhe nun BRTMHN CUie daughter of MHN') went out or this [corrupt 

SS^JiY? od '™rJ ,gh ' y0keshebOre(cf Mt ' « I: ^30). make her worthyofHis Bridal 
Chamber full of joys with those ten wise virgins [sic) who were successful and greased their lamps 
with oil (Mt. 2 5 :i- l3 ), by the prayer of His Mother and His Saints! Amen 

In 932 - more precisely, between 1 3 Jan. and 31 Dec. of that year- another epitaph was engraved 
at Zaz, on a pier of the church of Mor Dime}: 

A.11 KBpWH'^rhapsadUepZakhary.thesonofl^rm.wentoutofthisworldlandldepartedto 
prayfornim! hundr ^ ^'^"yofthe Arab. Alas! Let [every one who) reL( t h«) 

This is the earliest Syriac inscription dated by the Islamic era and one of the two known Syriac 
epitaphs containing the word 'Alas!' (Syriac: woy; also in A.7). 

O. Inscrr. P 22-32, A.20, Inscrr. P 65-71 and D.l-13: epitaphs at $alah and at Hah 

Theearliest Syrian Orthodox epitaph, if we may discount the Appendix to C.2, may be Inscr Pia 
at Salah, dated August, 908: " * 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 219 

Fig, 56. Tower in monastery of Mor Michael near Mardin, showing a white paper squeeze drying on INSCR. 
A.13 of ad 961 

The holy bishop of Serugh, Mor John, from this very abbey (sc. of Mor Jacob the Recluse), went out of this 
world full of afflictions and departed to the Lord in the year one thousand two hundred and nineteen of the 
Greeks in the month of August, on the sixth (day) of it, a Friday. Let every one who reads (this) pray for him! 

'John; bishop for Serugh, from the monastery of the Recluse in Jw Abdin' was the twenty-first 
bishop ordained by the patriarch Theodosius (887-96: Chr. Michael 1195, Register xxi.21, p. 
757). His abbey was moved to commemorate in stone the first bishop it had produced, although 
an anomaly in the inscription suggests that he did not die at §alah (6 Aug. 908 was not a Friday)- 
Four years later the honour of an epitaph was extended to the sacristan of the abbey. Thus a 
custom was instituted which lasted for about 200 years. In general, abbots and priested monks 
were commemorated, but there are two epitaphs in which unpriested monks are mentioned and 
one inscription (Inscr. P 27) which records the inalienable gift of land to the church by a villager. 
AH these memorials (Inscrr. P 22-32) are on the east wall of the antechamber of the conventual 
church, on either side of the entrance to the nave, where they might best be read by those coming 
in. There is another epitaph on a block of limestone among the ruins to the north of the church; it 
is dated 1226 and the word 'chamber' in this context suggests that Salab was already the residence 
of a bishop: 

A.20 Rabban Elijah, priest and monk and spiritual son (lit. son of the discipline) of this chamber, went 
out of this world and departed to his Lord in the year one thousand (and) five hundred and thirty- 
seven of the Greeks, in the month of June, on the ninth (day) in it. Let every one who reads (this) 
pray for him [and acc\ept us for the sake of Christ! 

220 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

Epitaphs were not equally popular in other monasteries and villages at the same time. The onlv 
comparable ep.graph.c archives arc at Hah and (formerly) at Heshterck. In Hah there are seven 
epitaphs on the apse of the oratory next to the ruined church of Mor Sovo (Inscrr P 6s-7l> 
ranging in date from 1 1 35 to 1 295 and commemorating a rector, a priest, three deacons and two 

bishops. At the monastery ofStsSergius and Bacchus, just east ofHah, there is anarch opposite 
the entrance of the conventual church, on (he underside of which are engraved records of the 
deaths of monks (and others?) from 1 103 to either 1218 or 1232 (D.t-i 3 ). 

P. Inscrr. P 95-116: epitaphs at Heshterck - a clerical 'archive* 

The richest and most revealing repository of funereal records was the apse of the new ruined 

outdoor oratory at Heshterek. Inscrr. P 95 -, 16 represent all but a few of the lost inscriptions- 

those which Pognon neglected were illegible. (In the following, 'No. 95* stands for >Inscr. P «• ) 

The earlKstepuaphat Heshterek was dated 9 1 2/ 1 3 (No. 107); it commemorated the death of 

UlwTw ir l ' S ° n0 / hcp 7 St ? ndrec,orJob - andit ^^ril>edbytwo P riests,John a nd 
U wan. We dtscern a college of at least three priests of whom one was designated 'rector' a 

pattern sumlar to that already displayed in 77 ,/2 by No. 96 (= A.5). From 972 to «o 4 ,/2 .'he 


the mference that the number of their college remained stable at three to four. That level is 

ma, "!fL n !f- , !; S ,! ^T' 1 ^^^™**^^^"'"^ 1 ^^'"^-^^! rector 
recorded d.ed by a violent hand in , ,65/6; his son. the priest Solomon, died in the same year 
Between 1 , 72 and 1 ,82 the vllage lost four more priests and two students for the priesthood- a 

1™°,™ fTl t u' **?** CCn,Ufy lhc Cpigraphic ""»* is lhi * (** itse'f ^y be a 
symptom ofdeclmc); in the twodated inscriptions. No. 1 14 of 1233/4 and No. H2of ,294 one 
pnest and one deacon are mentioned. 

From 972/3 to 1 165/6 the 'archive' is so complete that a continuous succession of rectors can 
be reconstructed: 

1 $livo (d. 972/3) 

2 'Ulwan, reigned 3 years (d. 975/6) 

3 Hoye. reigned 21 years (d. 996/7) 

4 Peter, reigned 14 years (d. 1010/1 1) 

5 Scverus, reigned 8 years (d. 1018/19) 

6 Addai, reigned 23 years (d. 104 1/2) 

7 [Jesjse, reigned 32 years (d. 1073/4) 

8 Bsiro. reigned 29 years (d. 1 102/3) 

.2 Sd^/S^ ^ ° n ^ Same i,0nC M *" ° f Bsir °' bul without * *«< 
1 1 David, reigned 22 years {d. 1 165/6) 


Sin ,o^n£ .STT V n . N °- ,02 ( ' 04,/2) " Pr ° bab, y Spriest Samuel who 

£S. fi 4 H 4 ^ u l ° 3)An0ther P nestof « hatnam «=«^niemoratedinNo.95(io77/8)-hecan 
beatified with thec n g raverofNo . IIO(l059/6o)Bsirosonof(hc ^£±™*™ 

pnest, mscrtbed his father's epitaph in .073/4 (No. ,06) and that of the priests SamueTand 

h,s son, Ab[u GhalabJ, whose own memorial is placed on the same stone (No. 97). He died as a 

who engraved th,s ast epuaph may be the priest of that name whose epitaph was written by £ 
son Moses ,n . ,72/3 (No. 1 ,5). Moses signed three other inscriptions: Nos 1 , t I05 and 116 of 
1 «8o/,. , , 8l /2 and t .95/6; his own death is recorded in an undated epitaph. TT^us inthe ^ 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 22 1 

from 104 1/2 until the end of the twelfth century almost every stonecutter was himself the subject 
of a subsequent memorial. 

There is other evidence to support the resultant impression that the priesthood at Heshterek 
was hereditary and that literacy (and thus the ability to engrave memorials) was limited to the 
priestly clan. The rare name 'Ulwan, which occurs only in these inscriptions, appears in several 
different generations as the name of a priest. It may have been handed down from grandfather to 
grandson, since No. 1 1 1 records the death of the priest Simeon, son of the priest 'Ulwan. 

In 1041/2 the death of a priest coincided with that of a rector; the commemoration of both 
together set a precedent. Priests henceforth received epitaphs, too (one retrospectively). They 
were joined later by deacons and scholars, to whom must be added one very young boy and a 
thirteenth-century layman whose death coincided with that of a deacon. Thus the privilege was 
gradually extended beyond the circle of priests, although the poignant epitaph of [ 1 to/i t (No. 
109), which initiated this extension, suggests that the wider circle was intended only to include 
those who were being schooled for the priesthood, the young boy being perhaps a prospective 

Q. B.12 and the calligraphic revival of c. 1000 

The theme of education offers a transition to B. 12, an inscription which brings us directly into 
contact with the man who initiated a calligraphic revival in Tur Abdin around the year 1000: 
Bishop John {Chr. Gregory ft, cols. 417, 419). The roots of this revival are to be sought in the 
region of Melttene, as the present author documents elsewhere {OC 70 (1986), pp. 37-68); its 
effects were to be felt for many centuries. John was a native of Beth Svirina (see B. 1 3) and a monk 
of Qartmtn. He was 26th of the 39 bishops created by the patriarch Athanasius IV Salhoyo (986- 
1 002/3: Chr. Michael 1 1 95, Register xxx, p. 76 1 ), so it is unlikely that Gregory's date (987/8) for 
his ordination is right. Denis I V Hoye was elected patriarch in 1 03 1 ; he ordained John's successor 
shortly after moving to Amida in 1034 [Chr. Michael 1195, Register xxxn. 12, p. 763). Thus the 
synchronism of patriarch and bishop enables the date of the inscription to be fixed between 103 1 
and 1035: 

B. 1 2 In the days of the patriarch Mor Denis and Mor John, our bishop. The builders were the monks 
Abu't-Khayr and Isaac. Let everyone who reads (this) pray for all who participated and let him 
(ask God to) pardon them and their departed ones and Kulaib. the Head of the Brothers! 

This inscription is in two fragments, immured in the wall of the conventual church at Qartmin; 
their original reference is unknown. No previous cpigraphic memorial was so carefully propor- 
tioned, so well laid out, so finely executed. The tetter-forms are as close as the difference of 
medium allows to the calligraphic style adopted by Bishop John and his school. It is this which 
makes it certain that B. 1 2 is not from the reign of the patriarch Denis II (896/7-908/9), who was 
contemporary with another bishop John of Tur Abdin {Chr. Michael 1195, Register xxn. 19, p. 


In Heshterek we encountered stonecutter-priests; B.t2 specifically introduces two men who 
were both masons and monks. The deacon Joshua apparently claims to be a monk of Mor Jacob 
at Salab, (B.7) and the prominence of his name on the church (B.5) suggests he was involved in 
building it, probably as a master stone-mason. 

Another curious feature is the presence of two Arab names in the inscription: Abu J l-Khayr 
(meaning 'Father of the Good') and Kulaib (an apotropaic name meaning 'Little Dog'). No 
Arabic names occur in the corpus before 771/2 (A.5) and, even there, Habib is a borderline case. 
Arab influence is evident in the formation of the names Abu Zakhary (C.5), Abu Ghalab, Abu 
Sahel and Abu Nasr (these three in the epitaphs at Heshterek). As clergy or monks, none of these 


Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

men would have enjoyed the religious camouflage which has sometimes been sought by Chris- 
ban. I.vmg under Ishtnuc oppression. Rather, these names show a degree of integral into th e 

R. A. 15-17 and the lay-out and orientation of the inscriptions 

After B.12 wc find several inscriptions showing the same care for proportion, lay-out and fine 

caH^^ •ntheyearonethousandthreehundrcdandfortv-fivcoriheOr«.i f4 /in-„/.wk u i u ... 

This inscription is in the burial vaults built between 7 75 and 790 (B.9) at the Monastery of the 

^Z^Zt'l °' y bUi ' dingS * ^^ b ° te h ° Un *** ™ k < the «™£^i 

w ,V I ^ L nSC ^ ° n a aWtAU,y Prcpared i**™**" surface on the wail of the rock-hewn 
vestibule wh,cheads ,nto the underground burial vault at the Monastery of Mo, MoZ neTr 
Kfarze. The tex ,s m the metre of Jacob of Serugh. The divisions between the twelveTyilabk 

'nA.ts.B.tzandC.^d.acnt.calpomtsare used which are not found in inscriptions before the 
call,graph,c revwat The hnes are equally spaced and the letters regular in sL PamSak n« 
scans.on and execution pay tribute to the scholastic standards of ^e day; th^icfion s onW stramed by the necessity ,0 accommodate the metre. If this may ot £ 1 ised s 
truly poct.c, ,, has at leas, the merit of being the only metrical inscription^ Tur Sin 

A.I7 f n,hc y c « onc ^^nd a ndfourhundredyear S (addedm«n M u J<J )eightyandfo U r(]i72/ 1 l a n 

fromThViT , ,t Z' ^^ a Shmm8 lamp - rich in inflammation (sic), has been exumruished 
. 7 nun p- «* a " s" 11 ^ and wise men mourn him. for he amazed them by his writin« La h« hi, 

*««£"■, u f9y ,hC ^ '■"^ him a p,acc wilh < hc Sai"" «* ^ tSS an7w ,h the 
angels may he shout out praise to the Lord Christ' 

Probably he retired as a widower to the monastery of Mor Moses Ifa c-rt wh:,h:„i, . 1, 

om^.onofthewordpnest'andofthetitle'Mor*(whichwa S duetoapriested m onk)fromA 7 
There, S anearher.nscnptionattheMonasteryofMorMoses,dated ,084/5 Its«t^l 
of erosion makes it d fficult to judge the fineness of ;,«„-,,„;„„' , • ,u ° 4 >> mextrcmcs wte 
laid out in advance: «ecut,on; certainly, ,t was not so carefully 

agencyofM.chad.pnes, and monk, who was a/.heres.dennnthismonast^JnXl^ofMor 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 223 

Fig. 57. The monastery of Mor Moses, near KJarze and Hcshterek 

Basil the bishop <cf . Chr. Michael (195, Register xxxnt. 1 1 , p. 763), in the year one thousand three 
hundred and ninety-six in that (i.e. the reckoning) of the Greeks. Let every one who reads (this) 
pray for Habib, the sinner, who engraved (this memorial) and for all who participated. 

The phrases 'by the care of ' and 'who participated* refer, as elsewhere ( A. 1 3, A. 1 5, B.3, B.8, B. 10, 
B.i 2, C.,4). to financial contributions. Only in A.6 is it uncertain whether 'Isaiah took great 
pains' (the same verbal root is elsewhere translated 'care') means that he invested money as well as 
energy. What building was commemorated in A. , 6 is unknown, because it is ruined; a neighbour- 
ing block of stone bears traces of two funereal inscriptions. 

It is striking how few of the inscriptions show evidence of planning and measurement in 
advance - the process known among Roman epigraphists as ordinatio (Susini, // lapicida romano 
(1966), Ch. 11, pp. ,8-20, Ch. v et passim). In general the mason improvised as he went along. In 
A.6 and B. 13 a larger script is used in the upper lines of horizontal inscriptions; this might be 
thought to be intentional, as it would allow a reader standing below to see the further words more 
clearly. But the position of these inscriptions is not and was not above eye-level. A close 
examination of B.13 reveals that the incised frame is itself narrower at the bottom, suggesting 
general distortion through perspective: the mason took up a position on the ground beside the 
horizontal surface on which he proceeded to engrave. In A.6 the shrinking script is due to initial 
optimism, belied by a growing sense of the lack of space. A.7 and A. 18 show a deranged order of 
words made necessary by the failure of the mason to plan the distribution of his text. 

Yet several stonecutters had an excellent eye for fitting words into a space; indeed, it was 
probably their confidence in this skill which led them so often to dispense with planning in 
advance. Where did they gain this skill? The overall quantity of inscriptions found inTur'Abdin 

224 Monk and mason on the Tigris frontier 

is so small {and it is so rare to find more than one inscription from one generation in one place) 

d^nvlt k 4 .? qUa T, y ° f CP,graphic material has diM P^ed. Their skill must have 
denvedfromsenba training. Th.s may be why inscriptions are normally aligned with the shorter 
sides of a rectangular space: that is how the page of a small codex U inscribed 

Thecodexmayal S ohelptoexplainthevariabIeorientationoftheinscripuons:A. 5 A7 Ao 
^«o^ ^t IZ- B 3 * B h 6< B 7 - B f * B ,0 * C '' C — "dC.M areall written vertically, from.op lo 

bo torn. (That <hiswastheong.nalonenlationofC.t can beseen from the fact that the beginning 
of he l.nes of wntmg ; was better protected from erosion than the end.) The same is trufof the 
epitaphs at Salah, at Hah and at Hcshterek. On the other hand, all the inscriptions at Qartrl 
Abbey except C.i, and a few others besides, are orientated horizontally. In the case of B t and 
B.5. which are contemporary with a number of vertical inscriptions on the same building." some 
sign.ficancemay ^be seen in the difference; here it would seem that the horizontal inscriptions were 
onentated thus for greater legibility. Vertical orientation may have been the older tradition in 
Synac. After the invention of the codex, the Syrians continued to write vertically (Wright MSS 
London , p. xxvn; Land ; W^S^t.pp.eo-iX 

fh?. Tl a a ? 'I ^ n0fma ' W2y ' bUt Wen! lUmed ,hrou * h 90' for «** Process of writing 
the left-hand side of the future codex being nearest to the scribe 

A vertical inscription resembles a page under the scribe's hand, a horizontal inscription 
consciously .mitates a book under the reader's eye. Repeated appeals in vertical inscrip bns for 
the prayers of every one who reads (this)' prove that they were intended, no less than the 
horizontal ones to be read. ButatSalah, where a conscious choice was madein orientation he 
vertical mscnptions B 3 and B.6-8. which are in any case too high up to read from the ground 
may be seen as memoranda to God*. 5 ' 

S. B.I 3 as historical propaganda 

At the ™d of this survey come three inscriptions which focus attention on the relations between 
Qartmm Abbey and the villages of Beth Svirina and Beth Man'em: 

B ' 13 S/Tn/ * C r » 0PS ° f 5"?** fr ° m ° nC lh0UMRd onc hundred ■* sixty of the Greeks 
K£.^T" u V™'„ E f Kl ° f ya *' Suama 0(Bctb "»'«• &*«. John. Iwa™, 
£S^^ " ?u ManCm - j0ShUa ° f Qartmin ' Jose P h of ** Svirina. John of 

^ruTTri h% °^ f ^ Ca ,! UgraphiC ^^ ata y- wh0 « **«*°n was dispute 
Uzarus of BcUj Svinna. Shamly. the sinner, of Beth Mancm. who acceded in .he year one 
*ous,„dfo U rhu^ 

founeen days. AMm:and lhc "'^rscampedm the Great Temple (i.e.! church) for 

This inscription (fig. 5 1 ) has been immured in the western external wall of the conventual church 
blocking a former opening into the nave. The last part of the inscription suggests that this is its 
ongma posmon: the opening was closed as a precaution against further invSon of thechurch 

< llr l~ T U » ° t A'7fo ,0n (aClUaUy " rUr,dsh, ° f SW" Po « no «. 'WW"™, p. 49 n. 5 ) 
survives ,„ the Book o/U/e Barsawm. TA, pp. 9 ,- 2): it ^^ in I099/l I( £ ^ p « JJ 

hlnllt ^iT'TT J?" fUrnitUrC - 0bjCC * ° fbronzc and ^ «««». vcZnu 
hangmg-lamps. books and valuables. This book, too. fell into their hands. They tore it up 

IZhl^ r CS t V°Su $ f3r 3S NisibiS " BUt We made di,i S enl rcscarehe * ""til we found '. '. [ 
wh a th a dfallenoutof.t.Whenwe P utittogether,wefound,..onlyon C pagewasmissing. All 

took refuge wuh the other inhabitants of Tur Abdin (here spelled Tur Abdin', as in B i , ) below 

Appendix: the early inscriptions 225 

the castle of Sawro. There was a severe famine: 'a measure of wheat reached 50 dinars . . . barley 
likewise; six buckets of acorns (were sold) for too dinars'. The rains had been insufficient in the 
previous winter and now, in the early autumn (when ploughing and sowing begins and when the 
villages pile up stores for the winter), 'a bucket of seed reached thirty or forty zuze and two 
containers of grape-molasses went for a dinar in the interior of Tur Abdin'. The refugees moved 
from Sawro to the castle of Haytam (closer to the fertile plain?), 'and in that castle we restored this 
book. This was done by Basil, namesake of his bishop, Basil Shamly of Beth Man'cm". 

The Book of Life was highly prized, but easily damaged. When he returned to his abbey after 
five years, the bishop was moved to make a more lasting record on stone, a record of a kind 
unknown in that region. He imported (from Badibbe?) a highly crystallized red limestone, as 
durable as marble, for the inscription. But what motivated him to give pride of place in the 
memorial to a list of the bishops who had preceded him? 

With the exception of Gabriel (cf. A.3), Shamly was the first bishop to be appointed for the 
abbey and its villages alone. In 1088/9 a separate bishop was ordained forTuTAbdin with his seat 
in the ancient cathedral village of rjah. Previous bishops of Tur Abdin since 6 1 3 had resided at 
Qartmin and Hah had been deprived of its earlier status for more than four and a half centuries. 
The innovation of dividing the diocese had a dubious precedent in the mid-eighth century (see pp. 
173, 180). The prominence in B.13 of Beth Man em, Beth Svirina and Qartmin, all villages in 
south-eastern Tur Abdin, as producers of bishops suggests a possible motive for the division: 
these villages were felt by the rest of Tur Abdin to have disproportionate influence in the diocese 
by reason of their relationship with the abbey. 

Qartmin Abbey had therefore suffered a blow to its prestige shortly before it was shaken and 
emptied by an act of undeclared war. In commemorating the tatter Shamly contrived to make 
good the former. He introduced his predecessors as "bishops of this abbey' and suppressed the 
fact that their official title had been 'Bishop of Tur Abdin' - the very title now carried by Shamly's 
rival in Hah, whom Shamly hoped by this ruse to deprive of an august line of succession. The 
inscription is propaganda for the primacy of the see at Qartmin. 

The official Register of ordinations begins in 793. The following is a list of the bishops of Tur 
Abdin between that date and the date of B.13, as recorded in Chr. Michael //qj, pp. 753-65: 

1 Thomas (xvu.7) 

2 Sergius (xvu.44) 

3 Ezekiel (xvu.78) 

4 Nonnu* (xvtn.89) 

5 Ezekiel (xxi.14) 

6 John(xxn.i9) 

7 Samuel (xxm.20) 

8 Iwannis (xxiv.ii) 

17 Gregory (xl.8) 

9 rjabib( 

10 Ignatius (xxv.42) 

1 1 Severn (xxvtii.4) 
[2 Iwannis (xx:x.S) 

13 Joseph (xxx.: 2) 

14 John (xxx.26) 

15 Iwannis Zakay (xxxn.u) 

16 Basil (xxxiii. 1 1) 

Why did not Shamly begin his list earlier? He clearly failed to apply to the patriarchal archives 
for a copy of the official Register. His list is in correct order backwards as far as Joshua of 
Qartmin (called 'Iwannis' in the Register, that being the name he adopted at ordination to the 
episcopate; likewise Zakay is 'Iwannis from the monastery of Abedh' and Lazarus and Shamly 
are both 'Basil'); thus far oral tradition would have served, for the time-span is little over a 
hundred years. Before that the order of bishops isconfused. The date given for Nonnus' accession 
is wrong (cf. p. 1 1) and his immediate predecessor, Ezekiel, is presented as one of his successors; 
several others are out of place. If Shamly's source gave the names of bishops, but not their dates, 
this would explain the muddle. The Book of Life is just such a source; moreover, during its 
restoration the order of pages may have been confused. Perhaps Shamly's initial idea was to 
transfer some important names from the patently vulnerable Book of Life to durable stone; the 
propagandists use of this list then suggested itself. 

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Fig. 58. Map of the Tigris and Euphrates basins, showing Roman frontiers and places mentioned in Urn book 




In citing the sources, I have abandoned the conventions famiHar to specialists, but 
perplexing to others, in favour of a system which enables the reader to see at a glance 
which genre is in question (chronicle, hagiography, letter, etc.) and to orientate his 
thoughts according to the essential critical coordinates (in the case of a chronicle- 
author/'probable author*, or place/'probable place" of composition (or, both failing 
'editor'), followed by the last date chronicled/approximate date of composition; in the 
case of a hagiography, whether it may in any sense be classified as a biography ('Life'), 
or not ('Legend'). The following abbreviations are used: 

ET, FT. GT, LT English, French, German, Latin translation based on the edi- 
tion here referred to and including page or section references to 

English (etc.) translation not based on the edition here referred 

Publication of the Syrian Orthodox archdiocese in Europe, 
obtainable from St Ephrem der Syrcr Klooster, 
Glancrbrugstraat 33, 7585 PK Glane/Losser, Netherlands 

'MS Dam. 12/17' or '12/18' refers to a collection of hagiographical texts now bound in 
two volumes, 12/17 and 12/18 of the collection in the Syrian Orthodox patriarchate at 
Damascus. There are three columns to the page, so the references take the form: fol. 
66b.3, i.e. folio 66, verso, column 3. A terminus post quern for this MS is given by the 
colophon of the Life ofAbhay on fol. 42b.i-2 of MS Dam. 12/18, which was composed 
by the patriarch Michael I in 1 1 84/5. The copyist added a short, anonymous note of his 
own, showing that he was not Michael himself. The date attributed to the Damascus 
MS by the author of a Garshuni (Syro-Arabic) version in the monastery of St Mark, 
Jerusalem, is therefore too early and must rest on an error (cf. I. Shahid, The Martyrs of 
Najran. Subsidia Hagiographica 49 (Brussels, 1971), p. 25). The simplest explanation of 
the error suggests that MS Dam. 12/17-18 was written between 1185 and 1188. 

I Syriac 

I A Syriac Chronicles, in chronological order 
1 Chr. Edessa 506 

Bibliography 229 

Chr. Zuqnin 775, 1, pp. 235-317 ('Joshua the Stylite'), with LT; FT: J.P.P. 
Martin, 1873; ET: W. Wright, 1882. 

2 Chr. Edessa $40 

Chronica minora, i,ed. I.Guidi(i903),pp. i-i4,withZ.r;ET: B.H.Cowper, 
in Journal of Sacred Literature 5 (1864), pp. 28-45; GT: L - Hallier, 1893. 

3 Chr. Amida jo*p 

Historia ecclesiastica Zachariae Rhetori vutgo adscripta, it, ed. E. W. Brooks 
(1921), with LT; ET: FJ. Hamilton and E.W. Brooks, 1899; GT: K. 
Ahrens, 1899 (References include book, chapter and page). 

4 Chr. John Eph, 585 

Johannis Ephesini historiae ecclesiasticae pars tenia, ed. E.W. Brooks 
(1935), with LT; ET: R. Payne Smith, i860: GT: J.M. Schonfelder. 1862. 

5 Chr. John Eph. 58 f 11.5 extract = fol. 189 of the Oxford MS Bodley Hun- 
tington 52. Reproduction and £Tin E.A. Wallis Budge, The Chronography 
of Gregory, it ( 1932) (supposedly an extract from Bk 5 of Pt n of the Historia 

6 Chr. 'Guidi' 7th cent. 

Chronica minora, I, ed. I. Guidi (1903), pp. 15-39, with LT. 

7 Chr. Zuqnin 775 

Incerti auctoris chronicon anonymum pseudo-Dionysianum vutgo dictum, II, 
ed. J.-B. Chabot ( 1 933); FT(based on an earlier and incomplete edition): J.- 
B. Chabot, Chronique de Denys de Tell-Mahre; quatrieme partie (Paris, 
1895), quoted, in the absence of a belter translation: [Chabot, p. 10J. 

8 Chr. 'Brooks' 81 J 

Chronica minora, u, ed. E.W. Brooks (1904), pp. 243-60, with Z.T (J.-B. 
Chabot); ET: E.W. Brooks, in ZDMG 54 (1900), pp. 217-30. 

9 Chr. Qartmin 819 

Chronicon anonymum ad annum Domini 819 pertinens, ed. A. Barsaum, in 
Chr. 'Edessa' 1234, 1, pp. 3-22, with £ 7" (J.-B. Chabot). 

10 Chr. 'Harran' 846 

Chronica minora, II, ed. E.W. Brooks (1904), pp. 157-238, with L7(J.-B. 
Chabot); ET: E.W. Brooks, in ZDMG 51 (1897), pp. 579-88 (part only). 

1 1 Chr. Elijah w/8 

Eliae metropolitae Nisibeniopus chronologicum, t, ed. E.W. Brooks (1910), 
with LT; GT: F. Baethgen, 1884 (part only); FT: L.-J. Delaporte, 1910. 

12 Chr. Michael 1195 

Chronique de Michel le Syrien, patriarche Jacobite d'Antioche 1 166- / /oo, ed. 
J.-B. Chabot (Paris, 1899-19 10), with FT (Reference to book, chapter, 
column, page; a = middle column or secular history, b= inner column or 
miscellaneous, natural and anecdotal events, c = outer column or church 

13 Chr. 'Edessa' 1234 

Anonymi auctoris chronicon ad annum Christi 1234 pertinens, t, ed. J.-B. 
Chabot (1920), with LT 

14 Chr. Gregory I 



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232 Bibliography 

AMS, 4 pp. 507-665; GT. H. Hilgenfeld, in Hilgenfcld/Lietzmann, Das 
Leben des heiligen Symeon Stytites (1908), pp. 8o-r8o. 

22 Leg. Sovo 

AMS, 4, pp. 222-49; summary: Hoffmann, Auszuge aus syrischen Akten 
persischer Martyrer (1880), pp. 22-8. 

23 L. Theodotus (^698) 

MS Dam. 12/18, foil. 583-690. Edition (Palmer) in preparation cf. A 
Voobus. in Mus 89 (1976), pp. 39-42; A. Palmer, 'The Anatomy of a Mobile 
Monk . forthcoming in Studia Patristica XVIII, 2; id., 'Saints' Lives with a 
Difference', Orientalia Christiana Analecta 229 (1987), pp 201-16 

24 Thomas of Marga (840) S 

The Book of Governors, by Thomas 0/ Marga, ed. E.A. Wallis Budge, 2 vols 
(London 1893). with ET. Reference to book, chapter, page [and page in the 
edition of P. Bedjan, Liber superiorum (Paris, 1901)]. 

IC Miscellaneous Syriac sources 

1 Acts Ephesus 449 

Akten der ephesinischen Synode vom Jahre 44% ed. J. Hemming (Berlin 
19 17), wither (Hoffmann). 

2 Barsalibi, Comm. Ev., u(t) 

Dionysii Bar Satlbi commentarii in evangelia. 11(1), edd. J.V. Sedlacek and 
J.-B. Chabot (1906), with LT. 

3 Book of Hierotheos 

ed. F.S. Marsh. The Book which is called The Book of the Holv Hierotheos 
with Extracts from the Prolegomena and Commentary of fheodosius of 
Antioch and from the 'Book of Excerpts' and Other Works by Gregory Bar 
Hebraeus (London and Oxford, 1927). 

4 Book of Life 

The Book of Life (Syriac: sfar haye) of the Abbey ofQartmin and of Beth 
Snrma, cited where possible from Barsawm, TA, pp. 91-6; otherwise from 
the recent MS at Qartmin (a copy of which is appended in microfiche to this 
book, with ET). 

5 Cal. Edessa 411 

Un martyrologe syriaque', ed. F. Nau, in PO 10. 1 (1912), pp. (1 1-28J, with 

6 Cat. Syr. 

'Douze menologes syriaques', ed. F. Nau, in PO 10.1 (1912), pp f20-s61 
with FT. KF " l *^-> OJ ' 

7 Cat. TA 

Le Martyrologe de Rabban Sliba\ ed. P. Peeters, Anal. Bolt. 27 (1908) pp 
129-200, with LT [reference by day of month, e.g. '3 Dec '1 

8 Can. E-Syr. * J J ' 

Synodkon Orientate, ed. J.-B. Chabot. Notices et extraits de la bibliotheque 
nationale 37 (Paris, 1902), with FT; GT: O. Braun, 1900; English summary 

Bibliography 233 

with extracts in translation in McCullough, A Short History of Syriac 
Christianity (1982). 

9 Can. Gregory 

Nomocanon Gregorii Barhebraei, ed. P. Bedjan (Paris, 1898); LT in A. Mai, 
Scriptorum veterum nova collectio (Rome, 1838), vol. io.n, pp 3-268- FT 
(partial and reordered): F. Nau, Ancienne literature canonique syriaque 
(Paris, 1906). i7i 

10 Can. Mor Zakay 

ed. A. Voobus, in Syriac and Arabic Documents Regarding Legislation 
Relative to Syrian Asceticism (Stockholm, i960), p. 61: the surviving 48th 
canon of the Rule written by John of Telia for the monks of Mor Zakay bv 
Kallinikos, with ET. 

11 Can. 'Rabbula' 

ed. A. Voobus, ibid., pp. 80-6: 'rules attributed to Rabbula* with ET. 

12 Can. W-Syr. 

The Synodicon in the West Syrian Tradition, prepared for publication by A 
Voobus, 2 vols. (Louvain, 1975-6). with ET. The ET is so unreliable that I 
refer where possible to the FT: [F. Nau, Ancienne litterature canonique 
syriaque (Paris, 1906)]. 

13 Cyril, Comm. Luc. 

S. Cyrilli Alexandrini commentarii in Lucam, ed. J.-B. Chabot (1912) with 
Lr(Tonneau), 1953. 

14 Doc. Monoph. 

Documenta ad origines monophysitarum Ulustrandas, ed. J.-B Chabot 
(1908), with LT (1933). 

15 Ephrem, Comm. Gen. 

Sancti Ephraemi Syri in Genesim et in Exodum commentarii, cd R M 
Tonneau (1955), with LT. 

16 Fasti 

IFastidellachiesapatriarcaled'AntiochiaM. I.E. Rahmani (Rome, 1920) 

17 George of B c eltan, Commentary on St Matthew's Gospel cited in OC 2 
(1902), p. 442. 

18 Gregory Barhebraeus, The Laughable Stories, ed. E.A. Wallis Budge 
(London, (896), with ET (occasional LT pudoris causa) 

19 INSCR. A.4; INSCRR. B.1-7 

Inscription or inscriptions belonging to the corpus published in OC 71 

(i 9 87)containing/Ar5C/i/?.A.i-20,B.i-i3,C.i-i4,D.i-i5;£rofmostof 
these in the Appendix of this book. 

20 Inscr. J 32 

Inscription cited by its number in the collection made by J. Jarry 'Inscrip- 
tions syriaques et arabes inedites du Tour Abdin\ Annates Islamotogiques 
10 (1972), pp. 207-50, with FT [unreliable]. 

21 Inscr. P 64 

Inscription cited by its number in the collection made by Pognon Inscrip- 
tions, with FT. 

234 Bibliography 

22 Lett. Philox. G. i 

The First Letter to the Monks of Beth-Gaugal*. in Three Letters of 
Philoxenos. Bishop of Mabbdgh (485-5/9), ed. A.A. Vaschalde (Rome, 
1902), pp. 146-62, with ET, pp. 105-18. 

23 Lett. Philox. G. a 

'La Deuxieme Lettre de Philoxenc aux monastercs du Beit Gaugal*, ed. A. 
de Haileux, Mus 96 (1983), pp. 5-79, with FT. 

24 Lett. Severus v 

The Fifth Book of the Select Letters of Severus of Antioch in the Syriac 
Translation by Athanasius of Nisibis, ed. E.W. Brooks vol. 5 (London, 
1904), with ET. 

25 Lett. Sim. B. Arsham on Nestorius 

Epistola Simeonis Beth-Arsamensis de Barsauma episcopo Nisibeno, 
deque hacresi Nestorianorum, ed. J.S. Assemani, BO 1, pp. 346-58. 

26 Lett. 530 

*Une pastorale antijulianiste des environs de 530", ed. R. Draguet, Mus 40 
(1927), pp. 75-92 (cf. I.E. Rahmani, Studia Siriaca, I (Sharfeh, 1904), pp. 

27 Sugitho 

[Hymn on the Sixth-Century Church at Edessa], ed. with ET by A.N. 
Palmer in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 12 (1 988), pp. 1 17-67. 

Key to 
Syr. n 

Syr. tit 
2, T. 



Syr. iv 

volume-numbers, old and new, of CSCO editions: 
CSCO Scr. Syr. 

J 7. 103 17, 52 

•5. 16 15, 16 


105, 106 
', 2, 3. 4 
62\ 63* 
62**, 63" 
81, 109 

70, [40 

152. 153 

233. 234 

367, 368, 375, 376 



«. *> 3. 4 



22. 24 





IOO, 10! 

l6l, 162, 163, 


My list 





A.2, 6, 8, 10 




A.9, 13 


B.i 6b 

ID Catalogues of Syriac manuscripts 

1 Assemani, MSS Vatican 

S.E. and J.S. Assemani, Bibliothecae apostolicae Clementino-Vaticanae 
codd. mss catalogus in tres partes distributus, 1.2, 3 (Rome, 1758, 1759). 

Bibliography 235 

2 Mingana, MSS Birmingham 

A. Mingana, Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of MSS, 1: Syriac and 
Garshuni MSS (Cambridge, 1933). 

3 Rosen/Forshall, MSS London 

F. Rosen and J. Forshall, Catalogus codicum mss orientalium. Pars ttcodd. 
syriacos et carshunicos amplectens (London, 1838). 

4 Sachau, MSS Berlin 

E. Sachau, Verzeichniss der syrischen Hss. Die Handschriftenverzeichnisse 
der Kgl. Bibliothek zu Berlin XXIII (Berlin, 1899). 

5 Wright, MSS Cambridge 

W. Wright and S.A. Cook, A Catalogue of the Syriac MSS Preserved in the 
Library of the University of Cambridge, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1 901). 

6 Wright, MSS London 

W. Wright, Catalogue of the Syriac MSS in the British Library acquired since 
the year 1838, 3 vols. (London, 1870-2). 

7 Zotenberg, MSS Paris 

H. Zotenberg, Manuscrits orientaux. Catalogue des mss syriaques et sabeens 
(mandaites) de la bibliotheque nationale (Paris, 1874). 

IE Syriac dictionaries 

1 Awdo, Lex. 

T. Awdo, simta d-lesana suryaya [Thesaurus of the Syriac Language], in 
Syriac (Urmia, 1896; rep. Glane, 1985). 

2 Brockelmann, Lex. 

K. Brockelmann, Lexicon Syriacum, revised edition (Goltingen, 1928). 

3 Payne Smith, Lex. 

Thesaurus Syriacus, ed. etc. R. Payne Smith (Oxford, 1879-1901). 

II Latin, Greek and Arabic sources 

1 Abu Yusuf 

abu Yusuf Ya'qub, kitdb al-kharaj[The Book of the Tax] (Cairo, ah 1352): 
FT: E. Fagnan, Abou Yousof Ya'qoub: Le livre de I'unpot fancier (Paris, 

2 ACO 

Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, ed. E. Schwartz. 

3 Agapius 

Agapius [Mahbub], kitab al-^unwan [Universal History], 2.2, ed. Vasiliev, 
P.O. 8 (1912), with FT. 

4 Ambrose, expositio evangelii secundum Lucam, ed. C Schenkl, Corpus 
Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, 32, rv (1902). 

5 Ammianus 

Ammien Marcellin, Histoire, ed. E. Galle tier (Paris: Bude, 1968-), with FT. 

6 Baladhuri 

al-Baladhuri,/uf«/t al-buldan, [The Conquest of the Countries] ed. de Goeje 

236 Bibliography 

(Leiden, 1866) [also ed. Munajjid (Cairo, 1957)); ET: P.K. Hitti, TheOrigins 
of the Islamic State 1 (New York, 1916) and F.C. Murgotten, The Origins of 
the Islamic State 2 (New York, 1924). 

7 Codex Theodosianus 

ed. P. Krueger (Berlin, 1923-6: partial); ET: C. Pharr (Princeton, [952). 

8 Evagrius 

Evagrii Scholastici Historia Ecclesiastica, ed. H. Valesius, in Patrologia 
Graeca, ed. J.P. Migne, lxxxvi.2 (Paris, 1865), cols. 2415-2886, with LT; 
ET1. Bidez and L. Parmentier, The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius with 
the Scholia (London, 1898). 

9 George of Cyprus 

Georgii Cyprii Descriptio Orbis Romani, ed. H. Gelzer (Leipzig, 1 890) [with 
reference to Honigmann, Die Ostgrenze des romischen Reiches (1935)]. 

10 Jerome, Vita Hilarionis 

[Sophr. Euseb, Hieronymus Stridonensis], Vita di Ilarione, ed. A.A.R. 
Bastiaensen. Scrittori Greci e Latini: Vite dei Santi 4, ed. Christine 
Mohrmann (Milan, 1975), with Italian trans. (Moreschini). 

1 1 John of Epiphaneia 

ed. C. Muller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, 4 (Paris, 1851), 
pp. 272-6, with LT, 

12 Lucian, de dea Syria 

Luciani Opera, ed. M.D. Macleod, 3 (Oxford, 1980). 

13 Luitprand, Antapo do sis 

Luitprand of Cremona [Ticinensis], Antapodosis. Quellen zur Geschichte der 
sachsischen Kaiserzeit, revised by A. Bauer and R. Rau. Ausgewahlte 
Quellen zur deutschen Geschichte des Mittelalters, ed. R. Buchncr, 8 
(Darmstadt, 1971). 
[4 Marcellinus Comes, Chronicon, ed. T. Mommscn, in Monumenta Ger- 
maniae Historica, Auctores antiquissimi, xr. Chronica minora, n (Berlin, 
1894), pp. 60-104. 

15 Notit. Antioch. 

Notitia Antiochenia, as reconstituted by E. Honigmann, in Byzantinische 
Zeitschrift 25 (1925), pp. 60-88. 

16 Notit. Dign. 

Notitia Dignitatum, ed. O. Seeck (Berlin, 1876). 

17 Paul the Silentiary, Description of Haghia Sophia 

ed. P. Friedlander, Johannes von Gaza et Paulus Silentiaritts (Leipzig, 1912; 
reprint Berlin, 1969). 

18 Procopius, Buildings, Secret History, Wars 

Procopius, de aedificiis, historia quae dicuntur arcana, bella, ed. J. Haury, 4 
vols. (Leipzig, 1962-4) [also ed. Dewing/Downey, with ET, 7 vols. 
(London, 1914-40)]. 

19 Ptolemy, Geography 

Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia, 1.2, ed. C. Muller (Paris, 1901). 

20 Socrates 

Socratis Scholastici Historia Ecctesiastica, ed. H. Valesius, in Patrologia 

Bibliography 237 

Graeca, ed. J.P. Migne, lxvti (Paris, 1859), cols. 29-172, with LT; also ed. 
R. Hussey, 3 vols., 1853, repr. with index by W. Bright (Oxford, [878); £7"in 
the Library of Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers, n.2 (New York, 1890). 
2i Sozomen 

Sozomenus, Kirchengeschichte, ed. J. Bidez, revised with an introduction by 
G.C. Hansen (Berlin, 1960); ET in the Library of Nicene and post-Nicene 
Fathers, 11.2 (New York, 1 890); /Tin Sources Chretiennes 306 (Paris, 1983). 

22 Strabo 

Strabo, Geography, ed. H.L. Jones, 8 vols. (London, 1923-32), with ET. 

23 Tabari 

Muhammad b, Jarir al Tabari, Ta'rlkh alrusulwa'lmuluk, ed. M.J. de Goeje 
et al. (Leyden, 1879-19 10). 

24 Theodoret, Hist. Phil, xxvi 

Theodoret de Cyr, Histoire des moines de Syrie. 'Histoire Philothee' xiv- 
xxx, ed. P. Canivet and A. Leroy-Molinghen, I (Paris, 1979), No. xxvi, 
Symeon the Stylite, with FT. 

25 Theophylact 

Theophylacti Simocattae Historiae, ed. de Boor, revised by P. Wirth (Stutt- 
gart, 1972): ET: Mary and Michael Whitby (Oxford, 1986)- GT: P. 
Schreiner, Bibliothek der griechtschen Literatur 20 (Stuttgart, 1985). 

26 [Ps.-]Waqidi 

futuh diyarrabV wa-diyarbakr [The Conquest ofDiyar Rabr andDiyar Bekr, 
i.e. Mesopotamia and part of Armenia], MS 93 of the Royal Library of 
Copenhagen, foil. i-66a (not consulted by me); GT: B.G. Niebuhr [revised 
and completed by A.D. Mordtmann], Geschichte der Eroberung von 
Mesopotamien und Armenien von Mohammad ben Omar el-Wakedi. 
Schriften der Akademie von Ham, 1.3 (Hamburg, 1847). 

27 Yaqut 

Y&qut, mujam al-buldan [Topographical Encyclopaedia], F. Wustenfeld, 6 
vols. (Leipzig, 1866-73). 

Secondary literature 

1. Works cited by short title 

All titles, apart from articles, that are cited five times or more in the notes, and some 
lengthy titles that are cited even less frequently, are abbreviated, as follows: 

Abramowski, Dionysius 

R. Abramowski, Dionysius von Tellmahrejakobitischer Patriarch von 818-845: zur 

Geschichte der Kirche unter dem Islam. Abhandlungen fur die Kunde des 

Morgenlandes 25.2 (1940), pp. 1-142. 

Acta marlyrum et sanctorum, ed. P. Bcdjan, 7 vols. (Paris, 1890-7). 

J.S. Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, vols. 1-111, i, ii (Rome, 1719-28). 

238 Bibliography 

Barsawm, KBB 

I.E. Barsawm, ktdbd d-birule bdiri [The Book of Scattered Pearls], or A History of 
Syriac Culture, in Syriac (Qamishly, 1958), being a translation from the Arabic al- 
lu lu al-manturfi ta 'rtk ai-'ulum wa-l-adab as-surydniyya [The Scattered Pearls in the 
History of Syriac Science and Literature}: Histoire des sciences et de la litterature 
syriaque (Aleppo, 1956 2 ; repr. Glane, 1987) 

Barsawm, TA 

LE .Barsawm, maktbdnutd d-'alatra d-fur c abdin [Monograph on the Region of Tur 
Abdtn], in Synac (here referred to) and Arabic (Lebanon, 1964); reprint of Syriac 
onginal, with supplement on Tur 'Abdin 1950-1985' and a much needed list of 
contents (Glane, 1985). N.B. The Syriac is based on original materials and is not a 
translation of the Arabic, as Fiey implies in Parole de I'Orient 10 (198 1-2) by his 
reference to the Arabic page numbers only; the only independent value of the Arabic 
translation is in correcting misprints in the Syriac. 
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Akademie der Wissenschaftcn, Phil.-hist. K.I., Jg. 1919, 1 (Berlin. 1919). 
Sainte Croix, G.E.M. de, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World from the Archaic 

Age to the Arab Conquests (London, 198 1). 
Sherrard, P., Athos. the Holy Mountain (London, 1982). 
Socin. A., 'Zur Geographic des Tur Abdln*. ZDMG 35 (188 1), pp. 237-69. 
Sodcn, W. von, Akkadisches Handworterbuch (Wiesbaden, 1965). 
Southgate, G., Narrative of a Tour through Armenia etc. (London/New York, 1840). 
Stichel. R„ 'Judische Tradition in christlicher Liturgic: zur Geschichte des Semantrons\ CA 

21 (1971). pp- 213-38. 
Streck, M., art. Tar Abdln, El iv (1934), German: pp. 942-9; French: 915-22; English 

(1948): pp. 870-6. 
Strong, D., and Brown, D., Roman Crafts (London, 1976). 
Susini, Giancarlo, // lapicida romano (Bologna, 1966); published in English as The Roman 

Stonecutter (Oxford, 1973). 
Sykes, M., The Caliphs Last Heritage (London, 1915). 
Taft, R.F., 'Some Notes on the Bema in the East and West Syrian Traditions', Orientalia 

Christiana Periodica 34 (1968), pp. 326-59. 
Taylor, J.G., 'Journal of a Tour in Armenia, Kurdistan, and Upper Mesopotamia, with 

Notes of Researches in the Deyrsim Dagh, in 1866*, JGS 38 (1868), pp. 28t-36i. 
Tchalenko. G.. Villages antiques de la Syrie du nord, 3 vols. (Paris. 1953-8). 
Torp, H., 'Murs d'enceinte des monasteres copies primitifs et couvent-forteresses', Ecole 

francaise de Rome. Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire 76 (1964), pp. 173-200. 
Viltard, U.M. de, Le chiese delta Mesopotamia. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 128 (Rome. 


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248 Index 

Chr. 'Brooks' Si 3 (Chronicon anonymum ad 
annum 813) 
evaluation 170 
ag 1109 180 
Chr. Qartmin 819 (Chronicon anonymum ad 
annum 819) 
evaluation xviii, 9-13, 51-2, 62. 101, 129, 151, 

158. 162, 168, 170, 174, 186. 189 
page{s)4 117 
6 117 
It 62, 154 
22 10 
AG 723 »5 

75* >5. 10' 

795 i«7 

891 16, 129, 151, 186 


926 153 

945 94.95. 101.154.156 


1010 91 

ion 16. 160 

lots 160 

1030 95, 168 

1045 160 

t047 t62, 168 

[O49 160, 162, 163 

1066 170, 172 

1067 172 
1069 170. 17; 

1073 177 

1080 177 

Chr. Harran' 846 (Chronicon anonymum ad 
annum 846) 
evaluation ti-13. 162, 177 
pagc(s) 207 57 

221-2 115 
AG 708 57 

1018 16. 160 

1045 i6° 

1049 160 

1066 170, 172 

1067 172 
1069 172 

1073 173. '77 
to8o 177 

1081 174 

Chr. Elijah 10 1 8 (Elias Nisibenus, opus 
evaluation xvii-xviii, 169 
1. page 168 169 
Chr. Michael tl9j (Michael Syrus, Chronicon) 
evaluation 151. 158, 165. 169-172. 173, 175, 

178. 179, 181, 185 
VM.i 57. 147 
ix. 7 116. 117 
'3 "7 

14 22 

15 I46 
X.2 150 

3 151 

15 «5i 
20 169 

24 25 

25 8.23,152, 153 
xt.4 153 

7 150, 158, 182 
9 93. 178 
13 155. «7I. 176 
•4 155. 173 
"5 175 

16 24. 25, 165. 166. 169. 173 

17 165, 166 

'9 173. "75 

20 (60 

21 169 

22 155. 168. 170. 171. 173. "74. 176 

23 xxii. 155. 165, 172. 173, 178 

24 170. 172. 173 

25 170. 172. 175 

26 157. 177. 178 
xii. 1 177. 179 

2 177 

3 169, 179, 180 

4 24. 180 

5 '55. 180. 182. 185, 188 

6 181 

7 181 
9 181 
21 181 

xiii.2 188. 189 

3 ««9 
Register of ordinations xxii. 225 

lit 175 

iv 175 

vii 175 

* '55. "75 

xn 175 

xiu 175 

xv 172 

Kvn 155, 174. 180. 188, 225 

xvm 11, 188,225 

xix 10, 162. 188 

xx 188 

xxi 188.217. 219. 225 

xxii 188,221.225 

xxiu 188, 225 

xxrv 188,225 

xxv 1 88, 225 

xxvii 188, 189 

xxvin 181, 225 

xxix 181. 188.225 

xxx 188.221.225 

xxxn 181, 221, 225 

xxxiii 223, 225 

XL 225 
XLIV l6l 

Chr . Edessa' 1234 (Chronicon anonymum ad 
annum 1234) 
11, page(s) 246-7 150 

Index 249 

247 145.15° 
262-3 '76 
298 165 
Chr. Gregory I (Gregory Barhebraeus, Chronicon 
page 144 1 1 
Chr. Gregory II (Gregory Barhebraeus. Chronicon 
Ecclesiasticum, part 1) 
evaluation 159. 175 
cot(s). 88n 129 

119,121 57.159 

299 175 
319 172 

417,419 178, 193,218,221 
Chr. Gregory III (Gregory Barhebraeus, 
Chronicon Ecclesiasticum. part 2) 
col(s). 77 93 

545. 547 46 
Chr. Addai 1503 (Continuator of Gregory in 
Bodley, MS Hunt. 52) 
fol. 197b 7 
Berlin Paraphrase (Berlin, MS Sachau 221. foil. 
evaluation 82. 100, 110, 145 
general 129 
fol(s). 780-81 a 130 
850-863 110 
92a 100 
I07a-b 145 
Leg. Aaron (La legende d'Aaron de Saroug. ed. 
evaluation 14, 24, 184 
pages 295-0 24 
328-9 33 
329-30 52 
L. Aho 
evaluation 1 7, 54, 56. 96 
fo!(s). 176a 54 
177a 54 
180 no 
184a 7, 54 
185a 75 
i85a-b 54 
i 86b- 1 87a 54 
1873-1893 127 
190b 54 

I90b-I9ta 56,96 
L. Athanasius (Note sur le monastere de Qennesre, 

ed. Nau) 
cited with evaluation 182 
Leg. Awgin 
evaluation 30, 112 
pages 39of 1 12 
L. Barsawmo (The Life of Barjawmo of the 

Northern Mountain) 
evaluation 17 
fol(s). 72a. 1 25 

72a.3-b.t 114 
72b-3 99 
72b-74a 85 

78a.2-b.l I to 
L. Daniel (The Life of Daniel of Aghlosh) 
evaluation 24, 47 
general 74 
foi(s). 98a. 2 24. 46 
98b.2 31 
98b. 3 24 
99b. 1 84. 175 
iooa.i 31 
ioob.2-ioia.3 no 
ioia.3-b.i 47, 74 
ioib.2 75 
LL Eastern Saints (John of Ephesus, Lives of 
Eastern Saints) 
evaluation 26-7. 74, 83. 87. 106, 182-3 
general 83 
Ch. 14 22 
18 16 

35 16. 146 

36 16 
58 74 

page(s) 7 75 

56 106 

59-60 106 

69-70 106 

82 106 

106-8 110, 147 

132-3 27 

191-4 100 

220 tto. 147 

229-47 26 

254 96 

271 Ml 

392 97 

395-4U 97 

419-20 146 

+M 157 

455 83 

502-4 23 

553 74 

556 75 

558 50,74, Il6, 118 

559-62 76 

563-6 74 
L. Jacob (The Life of Jacob the Recluse of $alah) 
evaluation xix. 6. 54, 56, 78, 105. tto. 173 
fol(s). I73b.2 105 
[74a.! It2 
I76b.2-I77a.3 54 
1773.2 xix, 6, 56 
178a. 1 xxii 
t78a.2 26. 30, 46 
179a.! Ill 
1793.2 no 
i79a.2-3 111 
i79b.2-i8oa.2 54, no 
i8oa.t xxii 
i8ob-3 54. m 
i8ia.i-2 no. 187 


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1-r^.^n^r- ^j ^^^.jy ^^ 

2 5 2 


Qartmin Trilogy (com.) 
lxxxvii.8 147 

9 '54 

9-12 xtx 
10-11 154 
12 154. 186 
14-18 (54 
17-18 154 
18 23 
19-20 73. 156 

UCXXVIIU-2 59, 101 

3-9 157 
5-7 94, 95 
13F 160 

LX.XXlX.14f 160 

16-17 160 
xc.4-5 164 

»5f 155 
XC1.4 [57, 183 
lof 155 
»5 72 
I9f 60 
L. Simeon of Olives (The Life of Saint Simeon of 
ihe Olives') 
evaluation 6-7. 176 
page(s)205 5 
207-8 7 
208 109 
210 [86 
2IO-II 164 
213-14 107. 164 
217-23 164 

218 164 

219 163 

221 I09 

222 93, l6l 
225 162, 163 

227 107. 179 

228 i6r 
228-9 100 

232 164 

233 163 

^35 '53 
238 105 

238-9 164 
239-40 164 

240 10 

241 22 

242 162 

243 163 
247 161 

L. Simeon Siylites (The Life of Saint Symeon the 
evaluation 39 
page(s)5o8 26 
5 to 39 
516-19 26 
520 98 
543 26 
Leg. Sovo (The Martyrdom of Saint 

general 31, 179 
L. Theodoios (The Life of Theodotos of Amida) 
evaluation 15,88, 165, 168, 182-3, '86 
general 88-91, 165-8 
fol(s). 58a. t 25 

3 94 
5Sb.2 95 
58b.3-59a.i 94 
59a.2 147 

600.2 165 
6ia.2 165, (87 
6ib.2 187 

633.3 22 

630 ' *55. 187 

1-3 22 
64b.! 164 
650.3 164 
663.3 94 
66b.t 96, lit 

1-3 74 

3 22. 23 
666.3-673.2 186 
67a.! tio 

3 22 
67b.! 25 

1-2 76 

2 92 

680.2 23 

69a-3 73 
Thomas of Marga (Book of Governors) 

M 93 

tl.18 93. 178 
Acts of Epkesus 44a 

page 7 171 
12 73 
46 78 
Barsaiibi, Comm. Ev.. ff ft) 

page 224 162 
Book ofHierolheos 

evaluation 179, 184, 189 
Book of Lift (sec also Microfiche 2) 

evaluation 7, 28, 51, 77 

general 200, 224—6 

page 1 18,51, 129 

3 i6t 

4 62 

« "3- "45. "53 
27 13 
31 62 
67 77 
129 131 
qpW Barsawm, TA, pp. 91-4 7, 131. 133, 161 
Can. 'Rabbuta' 

evaluation and No. 30 88 
Can. W-Syr. (The Synodicon in the West-Syrian 
evaluation 88 
1, page(s) 10 132 

145-56 84 



151 84,87,92 
156-7 92 

157 88 

158 75,86 

159 92 

265 90. 182 

266 93 
11, pagc(s) 1-3 184 

4 84 

11 77.184 

11-12 84 
13 84. 136 
15 46 
17-24 77 
25f 184 

33-4 185 

37 84 

42 84 

54 93. 2*5 

56 84 

60 84 

62 215 

64 $4 

207 120, 184, 185 

207-8 120 

211-17 88 
213 86 
217-18 97 

219 96 

220 96 

221 84 

222 95. 97 

Cyril, Comm. Luc. (Cyril of Alexandria. 
Commentary on the Gospel of Luke) 

page 180 44 
Doc. Monoph. 

general 151 
Fasti (I fasti della chiesa patriarcale d'Antiochia, 
ed. Guidi = Notitia Amiochena. in Syriac) 

page 13 xxii, 149 
George of B c elian, Comm. Man. 

general 162 
Gregory Barhebraeus, The Laughable Stories 

No. 632, page 131 93 
INSCR. (A corpus of inscriptions from Tur 

'Abdin and environs, ed. Palmer) 
Bold figures indicate the page on which a full 
translation appears. 

evaluation 200-1 

A.i 79, 92, 145, 201, 202 

A.2 168, 187, 205, 206, 2t 1, 212 

A-3 71. 95. '73. 208, 217, 224 

A.4 208, 209 

A.5 209-12(211), 217, 220, 221, 224 

A.6 [40, 174, 188, 204, 2 to, 213. 214, 223 

A-7 213. 213, 2t8. 223. 224 

A.8 94.95.97. 101. 174. 177. 188,213,215,217 
A.9 105, 188.213. 217. 218.222. 224 
A.10 93,218 
A.II 206, 2t8, 224 

A.I2 211, 217, 224 

A.13 2C6, 217,218, 219,223 

A.14 131,218 

A. 15 210, 217, 222, 223 

A. 16 210. 222—3 

A. 1 7 222, 224 
A.18 28,223,226 
A.19 210,226 
A.20 219 

B.l xxii, 52. 63, 133, 174. 186, 187, 203, 206, 

210. 212, 217, 224 
B.2-8 63, 133. 186. 201. 206-7, 208, 21 1. 212, 

B 9 94, 97» 177. 209. 213. 216, 217, 222, 123 
B.IO 210.213,217,224 
B.l I 28, 188, 189, 204. 206, 208, 217, 224 

B. 12 94, 206, 21 1, 221, 222, 223, 225 
B.13 28, 133,204. 210. 211, 223-5(224) 
C.i 133,201,204,206,209,224 

C.2 174, 206, 208, 209, 2IO-12, 222, 224 

C.3 211. 212 

C.4 70. 213 

C.5-6 94, 101, 208. 213, 215, 221 

C7-1 1 95, t02, 188. 208. 213, 215 

C.12 215 
C.I3 22, 215 
C.I4 217,222-4 

D.J-I3 206 
D.14. 15 217 
Inter. J (Inscriptions syriaques. ed. Jarry) 

Nos. 66 and 78 69, 21 1 
Inset. P (Inscriptions semitiques, ed. Pognon) 

various 28, 29, 201. 209. 2ii, 212, 217-22. 224 
Lett. Philox. G.l. // (Philoxenos. Letters I and II 
10 Beth Gawgal) 
evaluation 116 
1. page 147 146 
158 50 
a, sect. 1 146 
Lett. Sevents V (The fifth book of the letters of 
Severus of Antioch. translated into Syriac) 
No, 14 123 
15 123 
54 "5 
Lett. 530 (A pastoral letter of the year 530) 

page 83 123 
Sugitho (the inauguration anthem of Hagia Sophia 
in Edessa) 
evaluation and general 118-19 
verse 2 121 
5 120 

18 125 

19 125 
Abu Yusuf 

page 22 7 

general xxii, 171 
Agapius (Mahbub) 

evaluation 158 
2-Jl. pages 476-7 158 



Ambrose, exposiiio evangelii secundum Lucam 

Secret History 

vu.173 147 

11.24 5 

Ammianus (Ammianus Marcellinus, Re 

! gestae) 


xvni.5.3 4 

'•7 53 

6.16 28 

13 5 

10.4 92 


xxv.7.9 xxii 

21 4 


26 149 

evaluation 158 

Ptolemy, Geography 

page(s) 173-4 JS8 

v.17.2 xix 

176 154. 158 

Socrates (Historia Ecdesiastica) 

Codex Theodosumus 

vi. 1 5 and vit.8 171 

xvi.3.1-2 93 

Sozomen (Historia Ecclesiastics) 

George of Cyprus 

evaluation 74, 115 

verse 919 22 

m.14.30 xix. 74. 1 15 

John of Epiphancia 

Strabo {Geography) 

page 274 8 

xi.5.6; 12-4; 14.2; xvi.1.23 xix, 28 

Lucian, de dea Syria 

Theodoret, Hist. Phil. XXVI (Theodoret de Cyr, 

para. 49, p. 22 1 27 

Histoire Philothee, ed. Canivet, No. xxvi) 

Luilprand, Antapodosis 

6 too 

6.5 127 

9 98 

Marcellinus Comes, Chronicon 

Theophylact (Simocatta, The History) 

page 105 149 

evaluation 8 

Sotit. Antioch. (Nolitia Antiochena, ed. Brooks) 

1.1 34 28 

evaluation xxii 

11. 1. 1-2 8, 152 

general xxii, 22, 14s. 149 

1.3-4 *ix 

Sotit. Dign. (Notitia Digniiatum) 

3-9 152 

page(s) 75 «. US 

10.2-3 5 

77-8 171 

10.6 8 

79 28 

18.7 152 

Paul the Silentiary, Description of H agio 


i8.7f 8, 23 

lines 871-83 127 



evaluation 158 

evaluation 5, 22. 33 

page 123 158 



11.4 5, 22, 109, 145 

ti.688 1 So 

V-9 145 

tv.703-7 33 


Abbreviations: TA = Tur 'Abdln; Cj = fifth 
century; n. = note; Syr. Orth. « Syrian 

The letters A to H refer to the sections of the 
Microfiche Supplement. 

abbots of Qartmln 79, Table 3 and (43) 
Samuel ofEshtln (d. c.410) 12. 15C 20-32, 

36-73. 75. 92 
birthplace 20, but see G.5 (18); gives name to 

Qartmln Abbey 156 with n. 57, H (32) 
Simeon I of Qartmln village (d. 433) 
co-founder of abbey 12, 36-43. 57. 72; gives 

name to abbey 44, 47, 73 n. 2, 156, H (32, 

by contrast); fight between abbey and 

village over corpse of 90; known to 

Sozomen 74. 115; Life 15. 17, 2 1. 24, 53. 

81, 92: succession to abbacy Tiff; stops 

plague 78; unaccountability 81 
Cyrus I, the Old (C5) 77-9 
Stephen (C5) 7*f 
Maron of 'Aynwardo {C5) 7«r 
Simeon II (C6) 79 
Severus the Short (ft 534-) 79. 201 
John, later bishop of Dara (d. 578) 78f. i5of 
Cyrus II bar SufnOye, the Young (C6) 78f 
Sdfanyo (C6) 79 
Daniel 'UzoyO (d. 633), see: bishops, Tor 

{ AbdIn 
Gabriel 1 of Beth Qusffln (d. 648), see: bishops. 

Tor c Abdtn 
Athanasius of Nunib (d. 747), sec: bishops. Tur 

Gabriel II (fl. 752), see: bishops of Qartmln 

Denho(fl. 784/5)95, 215 
Isaiah 95, 215 

MansOr, son of Marzuq of Beth Svlrina 13 
Sergius ('abbot of TA"?) H (43) 
Sovo 18 

abbots, other 

Barsawmfi of Claudia (d, 458) 73, 98; archetype 

of extreme asceticism 85, 86, 91, 1 10 n. 195 

Daniel, Monastery of the Cross (fl. 775"9°) 216 

Moses, monastery or Abay, Qeteth (fl. 1250-5) 


Palladius, monastery of Bassus (fl. 567) 150 n. 6 
Stephen, 'the monastery of solitaries' in TA? H 

Theophilus, monastery of Jacob, Salah (fl. 
752-5) 2o6f 

Addai of Beth Svlrfna and his family t8. E.2. E.3. 
H(9. 10. 12. 13. 14, 18.35,45.47) 

administration 109 n. 189 (see also: bishops; 
divided dioceses; governors; monastic 
ranks; secular leaders in TA) 
Arab I58f, 162, 165-7, 170-2, l8l. 184-7. 190; 
ecclesiastical xxii, 23, 26, 31, 73f, 78, 89, 
92f, 117, I45f. 149-85 passim, 22of, 224f. H 
passim; monastic 73-1 12. 164, H (1-3); 
Roman 6f, 24. 51-5, 78. 8 1. 1 16-18, 123, 

agriculture 5, 7f, 53, 91, E.4, H (2 and 3); climate 
etc. 43, 96, 107-9, *85f; domestic animals 1. 
26, 96, 1 10 n. 198, 164. H (36); exploitation 
of peasants 53. "«. '83. 185, 187; grain, 
mills and bread 7. 83. 87. 89. 94, 96, 1 17. 
125, 158, 164, 214, E.4, H (32); isolated 
farmsteads 26, 36; olives and oil 50, 62, 87, 
i09f, t63f. Table 3 (2if). H (3); orchards 
and kitchen-gardens 81, 83, 164, 182; 
religion, relation between farming and 91, 
tto with ns. I95ff, 136, i86f, 2o6f, E4, H 
(32); trees 43, 54. 83. 96, 109, 1 16 n. 24, 
E.4, H (2, 35); vegetables etc. 8 1, 85. 87, 
too, 109, Table 3 (49); vine 5. 7, 87, 89, 96, 
[09, lion. 198, III; wine 1,5,8,82,87, 
92, 94, 109 n. 189, 2i4f, H (32, 41) 

angels 15, 37-9. 1 17. "9. 123-5. 128. 137, 158, 
222, Table 3 (3, 43. 45) 

archaic place-names 1, 28f. E.5 

256 Index 

architecture (see also: building techniques; church 
architects 52 n. 25, 1 19, 121-3. I2 8; design 

131-44, 214; function 36, 55, 71. 8lf, 97-100, 
102-5, t3if, 135-7, 147C zii, 215; models 
65, 1:2; symbolism 44-6. 58f, 1 1 1, 1 1 5, 1 19. 
124-8, 1311", I47f. 172 

Athanasius bar Gflmoye (late C7) 24 n. 23, 

Banasymeon, see: castles 
baptisteries 55, 140-8. 169 
bells and gongs 89. 9*. '34. »58 
aristocratic i67f, 201 f; episcopal 164, H (17, 18, 
24); imperial 4, 49-72, 1 13-48 passim, 
especially 129 and !44f, E.5. H (4); local 
36. 1 10, t86f, 2©6f. H (3, 22) 
bishops, ordered by 1. see and 2. date (see also: 
monasteries, Qartmln Abbey, bishops 
trained at) 
Marl (early C5) 24 
Asterios (fl. 431) 171 
Symeon (fl. 449-51) «7i n. 188 
John Sa'ord (483/4-503/4) 1 14-19 passim 
Thomas (early C6) 117 
Nonnus of Seleucia (early C6) 1 17 
John (mid-C6) isof 
Cyriac (early C7) 15 1-3 
Samuel (from c.614) 153 
Ewanfe (fl. 648) 154 

Theodotos (d. 698) 25. 7*. 88-91 passim, 
l&jf, 183; confused with T. of Germaniceia 
Matthew (fl. 698) 168 
Thomas (early C8) 163 
Severus (c.750) 171 
Isaiah, bishop of Ashpartn, then of a part of 

the diocese (mid-CS) 171 
John bar Shayallah (d. 1493) 23 n. 17, 46 n. 
Arab tribes of Mesopotamia: 

George (688-724) 77 
Gregory (11.648)154 
Abay, bishop of Arzon (fl. 745) 171, 173 
Banasymeon (Chalcedonian bishopric attested 

in 570) wf 
Beth 'Araboye: 

Polycarp (fl. 648) 154 
Beth RJshe (see E.2): 
JohnAddai(d. 1432) H (16) 
Barsawmo (d. 1457) H (19) 
Malke (d. 1465) H (20) 
Gabriel (d. 1492) H (25) 
Theodoret (d. 466) 58 n. 48 
Bacchus (c.800) 180 


Ananias (fl. 680) 155, i75f 
Thomas (early C6) 149 
Mamas (fl. 537) 149 

John, bishop of Sura, or of Dara (C6) 1 5 1 
Daniel 'Ozoyd (613-33), ***: bishops. Tur 

Gabriel of Beth QQs(an (from 634). see: 

bishops. Tor 'Abdln 
Sisinnius (fl. 648) 154J 
Gabriel (fl. 69S) 168 

David (d. 774), see: patriarchs (Syr. Orth.) 
Rabbula (412-33) 15, 52, 75, 1 17 
Ibas (435-57) 10. 7L 7« 
Asclepius (522-5) to 
Amazonius (mid-C6) 121 
Jacob 'Baradaeus' (d. 578) 23C isof (cf. 

Sources I B.9) 
Isaiah (from c.614) ($4 
Jacob 'Philoponus' (d. 708) 10. 25, 162, 182 
Gabriel (fl. 724) 175 n. 231 
Constantine (d. 734/5) t6o 
Timothy (d. 760/ 1) 172 
Elijah (769) 177 

Zechariah (784-6; d. after 797) 180 
Basil (c. 793) 180 
John (d. 586) 106; as witness to C6 Amidene 

monasticism 74C 8 [-8 passim; uninterested 

in relics 90, 182 (but see 85) 

John (C6) 151 
Sergius Zkhonoyo (c.68o) 155. t75f 
Theodotos (d. 737/8) 163; confused with T. of 

Amida 160 n. 96 
Philoxenos Qawme (C15), see: bishops, 

Qartmln Abbey 
Elijah bar Guphne (d. c.700) 163 
Simeon of the Olives (700-34) 1 59-65 passim, 

176, 179, 214; as a transitional 

phenomenon 183: as builder 6, 107 n. 185, 

160, 164, 188, 213; asceticism of 100 n. 166; 

as investor of church funds 164, 173; 

nephew David wrongly identified with later 

bishop of Harran 162; not builder of tower 

at Habsenus 217; olive-trees planted by 109 

n. 190, 1 to. i63f 
Thomas (734-7/8) 12, 160, 162, 176 
Isaac (752-6) 170, 172, 209f 
Denis (d. 761/2) 173 
David (mid-C9) to, 162 
Hesno d-KJfo/Hesno d-Klfo and Tor 'Abdln: 
Benjamin (late C4) 54, 56 n. 42, 78 n. 39 
Cyriac (from 752) xxii, 31 n. 69, 170-4 and 

206-10 passim 



Gozarto d-Qardu/Jazfrat ibn 'Umar: 

Basil (fl. 648) 154 

iwanls (fl. 1040) H (1) 

John(c.76o) I76f 
ECafartatho (see also: bishops, Mardln): 

John (fl. 648) 154 

Philoxcnos/Akhsnoyd (d. 523) 1 1 3- 19. E-3; 
relics of 66 
Mardtn/Mardln and KafartOthO (cf. 155): 

Daniel 'Uzoyo (from 614), see: bishops, Tur 

Sergius (8.698)168 

Sarguno (mid-C8) 172 

Ananias (end C8) I2if, 1851T 

John (C12) 88 n. 90. 94 n. 139. 95. 112, 184 n. 
9. 186 

Morutho (Marouthas) (fl. 410) 171 

Ignatius (fl. 648) 154 

Elijah (fl. 698) 168 
Midyat: see F, ad fin., and H (49) 

Jacob (d. 337/8) 4. 68. '» 

Barsawmo (C5) 93 n. 126. 178 

Abraham ((1.637)226 

Epiphanius (fl. 648) t54 

Isaiah (fl. 707) 163 

Abraham (910-22) 226 

Basil (fl. 1040) H(i) 

Athanasius (1041/2-1057) 226 

Abraham (fl. 1 189) 226 
Qartmln Abbey without Tur 'Abdln: 

Gabriel (from 752) 95, 150 n. 9, 168 n. 162, 
173. 208. 225 

Basil Shamly (1088/9-1105 + ) 133, 224f, H 


John (mid-Ct2) i6t, H (4) 

John Joshua (early C14) H (7) 

John Thomas (d. 1395) H (8) 

Cyriac (d. 1422) H (1 1) 

Philoxenos Qawme (fl. 1440) 62 a. 55, H (17) 

George (mid-Ci5) H (18. 24) 

Stephen (fl. 1502) H (24, 32, 33) 

Jacob (from 1749) H (37) 

John (C6) 151 

Addai (early C7) 154 

Gabriel (late C7) <55 

Severus (late C7) 25, 150 n. 9. 182 

Theodore (mid-C8) 175 

Severus (c.8oo) 180 
Sawro (see also: bishops, Banasymeon): 

Karpos, martyr (C67) 15, 17, 2 iff. 36 

Jacob (fl. 648) 23f, 154 

John bar Shayallah (d. 1493) 23 n. 17. 4* n. 
1t.64n.60. 109 n. 189. H (18) 

Ignatius Joshua (early C16) 46 n. 1 1 
Jacob (519-21) 47. 222 
John (d. 908)219 
Singara and Haburo: 

Dioscorus (fl. 648) 154 

Denho (c.700) 165 
John barQOrsos(d. 538) 24, 88. 149. 153* 

182. E.3 
Daniel Salhoyo (fl. 541/2) M9f 
Daniel 'Uzoyo (from 614), see: bishops, Jtu 

Zakay (early C7) 154 
Tor 'Abdln: 
'Amml of Hah ^5)31.78 
Theodosius (C5) Table 3 (35) 
Daniel 'Uzoyo, metropolitan of Dara and 
TA, originally also of Telia and Rlsh'ayno 
(614-33)19. 145. «53f.H (43) 
Gabriel of Beth Qas;an, originally also 
metropolitan of Dara (634-48) 16, 93 _ 5 
and 154-60 passimx career and revised date 
of death (648, not 667) is6f; cell associated 
with ascetic practices of 97-100; gives name 
to Qartmln Abbey 129, 156 n. 58, H (No. 
32); relics exhumed to ward off plague 183: 
rote at Arab conquest (meeting with 'Umar 
ibn al-Khaitab) 158 
Ananias, metropolitan of Damascus, q.v., not 

ofTA (fl. 680) 
Elijah of 'Aynwardo (late C7) 1 55. «68 
Abay (late C7) 168 
Moses of Anhel, q.v., or of TA, not a bishop 

John (C8) 163, 168 
Lazarus (c. 735-40) »62f, 168, 203 
Athanasius of NOnib (744-7) 94, t68f. 171. 

Cyriac of Hesno d-KIfo and TA (from 752). 

see: bishops, Hesno d-Klfo 
Abraham (mid-C8), not a bishop i09f 
George (fl. 77*/7) '74. 202, 214 
Sovo? (fl. after 775 and before 790) 194. *'<> 
Michael (fl. 784/5) '74. 215 
Thomas (c.8co) 174 n. 224, 225 
Sergius (early 69) 225 
Ezekiel of yah (early C9) 224f 
Nonnus of Harran (mid-C9) 1 1, 224f 
Ezekiel (late C9) 217. 224f 
John (c.900) 221, 224f 
Samuel of Beth Man'em (early C10) 224f 
iwanls (fl. 934/5) 2ti. 224f 
Hablb (mid-Clo) 224f 
Ignatius (mtd-Cio) 224f 
Severus (mid-Cto) 224!" 
Iwanls Joshua of Qartmln (late C10) 224f 
Joseph of Beth Svulna (late C10) 22V 
John of Beth Svlrlna (Ct i) 94, 189, 218. 

258 Index 

John of Beth Svlrina {com.) 
221-5. H (i t 50) 
I wants Zakay (mid-Ct 1 ) 224f. H ( 1 ) 
Basil Lazarus (c. 1050-88) 223-5 
Gregory Lazarus, not bishop of Qartmln 

Abbey, q.v. (from 1088/9) 2*5 
Iwanls Ephrem (d. 1984) 18, 68, E. 1, H 
(Preface; 48 and 5 1) 
Ziyad Castle: 
Timothy (fl. 1496) H (28) 
books (see also: learning) 
illumination Sjf, 164 n. 120, H (3); inscriptions 
explained with reference to 1 1, 210, 224; 
library of Qartmtn Abbey 1 10 n. (98, 161 
n. 102, 164, 189, 215, H (t. 4. 8, 40); 
liturgical books 64 n. 61, 134, H (3, 18, 40); 
subject of historical notice 25, 75, 97 
bread, see: agriculture, grain etc. 
bridge over the Tigris at Amida/Diyarbakir 12, 

ti6ffwithn. 24 
building materials 
bricks 63, 70, 1 19, 209; hard, red Beth Debeh- 
stone (jundmd) 133; lime Table 3 (35), H 
(3); limestone 33; marble 94, I24f, 139. 164; 
reused ashlar 33, 36, H (3); tiles 133, 209, H 
building techniques 
arches 49, 142; domes 59, 142: foundations 12, 
40. 124. 128; jambs 144; lintels 64, 133, 144; 
porticos 133; scaffolding 207 n. 2; unusual 
34. 38f. 40, 71; vaults 34, 63, 64 n. 60. 67f, 
134-6, I40f; walls 207 
builders and stonemasons 6f. 94, 109 n. 189, 123, 

134, 162, 202, 215, 220f, 223f 
burial (see also: relics) 
analogy with 58f, 84, 147; cemetary for nuns H 
(3); epitaphs 209f. 218-23; exhumation I2f. 
17, 72. 90, 101, 155. 157. H (46); funeral 17, 
92. 136. 156, H (3); funeral-feast 31 n. 71, 
E.4; ossuary 54, 95, 100-2, 2t5; possession 
of holy corpses 90, 136, 189; tombs J2f, 54, 
58-62. 66-9, 122, 136, 216 


Umaribn al>Kha{(ab (634-44) 129, 158! 
Yazld (Jazid) III (fl. 744) 1 1 n. 46 
Ibrahim (744) 1 1 n. 46 
Marwan II (744-50) 174, 176 n. 237 

MansOr (754-75) '3- '7<>. 172. t77 
Mahdl (775-85) 177 
HirQn al-Rashld (786-801) 181 
Ma'mon (813-33) ". 161. 182 
castles and fortified settlements 
Antakh, see: Hatakh 
Banasymeon 22-4, 145 
Beioudaes, see Fafi 
Bozresha, see Hisarkaya 
Dara n 7f, I22f, 129 (see also: cities) 
Demetrius, see jar 'Abdln 
Fafi/Fafeh, Beioudaes 23, 152 n. 25, G.5 (10) 

Fenek, Fanek xix, 4, 100 n. 166, 107, 179 

Hatakh. Antakh G.5 (t 1) 

Hatem Tay. see Tor 'Abdln 

Haytam. Haytum. read Haytham, Haythum 

Haytham, see Tor 'Abdln 

Hdhato. seeJadlda 

Hesno d-Ktfo xxii, 4, 6. 54A G.5 (7. 22). H (8, 
46); Aramaic inscriptions at 29; 
Christianity comes to t~8 n. 255 

Hisarkaya. Bozresha 22 n. 12 

Jadlda, Judayyida, ludayda, Qel'o Hdhato G.5 

KharpQf, see Ziyad 

Mardln 158 (see also: cities) 

Mindon 5 n. 7, 218 

Mnasoubion, corrupt form of Banasymeon, q.v. 

Rabbat 74 n. to 

Rhabdios, see: Jar 'Abdln 

Sargathon 5, 7 

Sawro xix, 20-4, 46, 107, 225. H (2) 

Serwan, Sisauranon 5, 7, 109 n. 190. 163 

to Rhabdion. see Tar 'Abdln 

Tor 'Abdln, Rhabdios, Haytham etc. 4-7, 151, 
162, G.5 (12, 22), H (2, 8) 

Ziyad, KharpQJ H (28) 
caves 36, 89f. 100, 122 n. 61, 146, 183, Table 3 

(47). H (8) 
church architecture (see also: architecture) 

altar 71, 81. 83, 97-100, uaf, 164, (5); bima 
'35. J 64. 207 n. 2; bread-oven in church 
134 n. 131, 2t4; chancel screen 
ikatastrdma) 209f; chapels 97. 136, 214; 
ciborium 124-5, * 37. (21. 39); division 
between the sexes 135, 212; dome 47, 
58-62, [40-8 passim, (21, 39); entrances 64, 
[31. 135, 206f. 212, 219; lectern (gudhd). for 
antiphonal singing 134?. 214; nanhex 132. 
I35f; nave (haykld) 124, 126 (but see: 
lexica); outdoor oratory (bttk siusko) 36f, 
40, 46, 136. 21 if; recesses in wall, perhaps 
for icons 134; sanctuary 49, 64f, 97, 115, 
124-6, 135; synthronos 31. 125 with n. 73; 
'tkrSnos', meaning altar, see: lexica; 
transverse vault 135; village church 135C 
2i2f; windows 64C ijif; wine-press in 
church 214 
churches and chapels (see also: monasteries) 

dedication of 47, 136 

individual churches: 
Addai, at Heshterek 211, 213, 222 
al-'Adhra*. see Mother of God 
Ambar, near Dara (dedication unknown) 137, 

Apostles, at Edessa 71 
Cyriac, at Anhel 163 n. 107. 213 
Cyriac, at Arnas 52 n. 25, 163 n. 107, 209, 

an. 213 
Cyriac, at Beth Svlrina H (33) 
Cyriac, at KafarbQran 134 
Daniel of Aghlosh, at his monastery 47, 74 

Index 259 

Dlmef, at Zdz 218; arch next to 30 n. 55 
Dodho. at Beth Svlrina 3 if, 211.213. «$■ F 

passim, H(3. 21.22,39) 
Dodho, at Espes/Hespis 3 if. H (22) 
Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. at Amida 12,1 16, 

134 n. 130 
Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. at Qartmln Abbey 

Gabriel, at Zaz 156 
Haghia Sophia, at Constantinople 118, 121, 

Haghia Sophia, at Edessa to, 1 18-19, 121-2 
Isaiah, at Beth Svlrtnfl H (3) 
Jacob, at Nisibis 68 

John the Baptist, at Fofylth/Kafarbe 214 
Karoos martyr, at Qartmln village 21 f 
FCarpos martyr, at Sawro, converted into 

mosque 23 
Mary Magdalene, at Beth Svlrina H (3) 
Mary, Mother of God, at Hah 3L 46 n- «« 
Mary, Mother of God. in monastery of John 

at Hah 187 "• 3 8 > 203 
Maryi Mother of God, at Qartmln Abbey 

62-5. H (5) 
Mary, Mother of God, at Saffron Monastery 

Mary, Mother of God, at Theodotos 

monastery 90, 187 n. 38 
Samuel, at Hah 31, 58 n. 49 
Samuel at Qartmln Abbey 46-9 
Sergius and Bacchus, at Beth Svlrfna H (33) 
ShaHto, in Beth Svlrina H (3) 
Simeon, at Habsenus 213 
Simeon of Qartmln, at Qartmln Abbey 47, 56 

Sovo, at H4h 31. 70. ioo n. 169, 211 
Stephen, at Edessa, formerly a synagogue 52. 

Stephen, at Fofyath/Kafarbe 2i2f, E.i 
Theodore, at Nisibis i64f 
Thomas, at Jerusalem, converted into mosque 

'ZozdyeL at Beth Svlrina H (7) 
'Zozoyel, at Kafarze 135. 207 n. 2. H (7) 
cisterns 5, 34 n. 4. 41-3. 47. 55**. 1°° "• '66. '471 

for hermits 65, 100 with n. 166, I04f 
Aleppo 175, E. 1, E.4 

Amida, Diyarbakir 54. 75. 79: buildings at 134. 
208; diocese of 90, 180 (see also: bishops); 
economy of 109 n. (89, 186; life at 81-8, 
9 if, 117, i66f; seat of provincial 
government 55, t66f; strategic importance 
of 4. 22, 1 17C 158; Syr. Orth. patriarch 
resident at 221, (34); Antioch (Syria) 165 
(see also: patriarchs (Syr. Orth.)); dating by 
calendar/patriarch of xviii, 159, 206 
Baghdad 13, l6t, 173, 177. 182, ai6 
Circesium 158 
Constantina. see Telia 

Constantinople 33. 81, 83, 87, 122, t**; » 
centre or power 4, 1 5 1 (see also: patriarchs) 

Dara Anastasioupolis 5, 7, 22, 109 n. 189. 158. 
209 (see also: bishops); fortification of, 
under Anastasius 1 17C I22r, 129; governor 
of 90, 133. 167, 187. 201; metropolitan 
jurisdiction of xxii, 22f. 145, 149. '53"" 

Diyarbakir, see: Amida 

Edessa 24. I5«. «5*- '59 n. 90 (see also: 

bishops); buildings at 52, 1 [7-25 passim, 
169; diocese or 152, 172 monasticism at 74, 
88, 92; Nestorian bishop of 152; opens 
gates to Muslims 158; schism at 151 

Harrftn ilf, i6if. 164. 174. 176. 180 (see also: 

Hierapolis, see MabbOgh 

Horns t8r. E.i,H(29.48) 

Jerusalem 89. 96. [15. 126. 181, H {13. t8. 24, 
26. 27) 

Kallinikos. Raqqa 87, 150, 1 58, 174 n. 224. 180, 
184 (see also: bishops) 

MabbOgh 83, 174-6 (see also: bishops) 

Mardln xixff, 7. 109 n. 189. 123, 153. 155, 158 
(see also: bishops; monasteries, Michael) 

Mayperqaf 5, 6. 80. 90. 158, I7t r , 215, Table 3 
(42), 64 (see also: bishops) 

Melitene 85, 165 n. 131. 189, 221 

Mossul 152-4, 177 

Nisibis xix. 5-7, 68. 146. 153. 224 <*« also: 
bishops); Syr. Orth. reassert presence in 
107 n. 185. 109 n. 189. 160, 162. i6af; 
taken by Arabs 158. 167; taken by Persians 


Palmyra 58, too 

Ra's al-'Ayn, see: RIsh'ayno 

Raqqa. see Kallinikos 

Rlsh'ayno, Ra's al-'Ayn 6f, 12. 22, 24, 158 (see 
also: bishops) 

Rome 208 

Samosata 25, 30, 165. 172 (see also: bishops) 

Tagrtt 93 n. 126. 177. 181 (see also: bishops) 

Telia, Teio d-Mawzlath, Constantina xix, 6, 12, 
22, 91, I53f, 158, i72f (see also: bishops) 
clothing 83-7, 89, 92. 136, H (22, 39) 
commemoration 200-25, E.4; in Gospel-book 210, 
E.5; in hymn 15, 80, Table 3, E.5; in 
inscription 200-26 passim; in liturgical 
calendar 18, 23, 5of. 53. 57f. 73. 77. 80. 9°. 
1 17, 129. 162, 168, 218. Table 3; in the 
Book of Life 18-19, E-H passim; of a 
deceased layman 22 1, E.4; of a historical 
event 201, 224-5, E.5, H; of material 
addition to church property 201-3. 206-18, 
22 if, 226, E.3, E.4; of the dead 208-10. 
2 12. 218-22, E.3, E4; of the living E.4 
Covenant, Sons and Daughters of the 26, E.2, H 

(13. 35^45) 
crafts and trade 1, 89. 109 n- "89, 1 19-23, 129, 

260 Index 

crime 54, 77. 84. 89. no n. 192, 158. 167, 170, 172. 

Table 3 (15. 16). H (s. 46) 
cross, representation of 47, 64, 36, i2of. I25 f , 137, 

I39f, A.3-2, H (3 and 24) 
on stone 40, 49, 64C 122, 133 (see also List of 

figures at front of book) 

Daniel, the son of Moses of Anhel. historian (mid- 

C8) 10, 169, 170. 172. 176 
diversity of vocation 8of. 87f, 9 if 
divided dioceses 23, 133, 150, 171, !73f, i8of, 208. 


emperors of the Romans H (41) 
Constantine the Great (307-37) 6, 52, 184, H 

Helena Augusta, mother of Constantine (d. 

Constantius II (337*<>0 *x». 4, 6, 22, 56 n. 42 
Julian (361-63) 4 
Jovian (363-4) 4 

Theodosius I (379~95) 44. 54. H (41) 
Arcadius (East) (395-408) 47-58 passim, 129, 

145, H (40 
Honorius (West) (395-423) 47~5 8 passim, 129, 

Theodosius II (East) (408-50) 51-60 passim, 65, 

72f, 78, 129 
Valentinian III (West) {425-55) 73 n. 3. 78 
Marcian (East) (451-7) 5*. 146 n. 168 
Zeno (East) (474-9') 5° n '8. 52; predecessors 

of 146 n, 168 
Anastasius (491-518) 38, 5if, 57 n. 45. 1 10 n. 

198. 113-48, 149. 151. 201 
Justinian I (527-65) 5. 5^ n. 23,81, 118. 121. 

123, I44ff 
Theodora, queen of Justinian I (d. 548) I44f 
Justin II (565-78) 150 

Heractius (610-41) 8, 153 n. 33, (58, 159 n. 90 
Justinian II (685-95 and 705-1 1) 165 
Tiberius II Apsimar (698-705) 165 
epigraphy 1.40.92^94.96, 102, 1 16, 131. 133, 

145C i67f, 174, 186-S, 200-26, E.5; non- 

Syriac t, 64^ 130; supposed C2 inscription 

at Mardln 21 1 
exploitation of peasants, see: agriculture 
exorcism 15. 87, 143, 182, Table 3 (50-2) 

food-shortage 83, 1 17, 177, H (2) 

frontiers (see also: hostilities) 
cultural 1 16. 135 n. 133. I78f. H (22); figurative 
87, 1 1 1; jurisdictional 74 n. 10. 90, 1 16, 
152-4; political 1-8. 23, 27, 52-5, 1 i6f, 
1 51-3. 165.175 

governors (see also: secular leaders in TA) 
! Akt, governor of Mesopotamia (mid-C8) 172 
'All, governor of Mesopotamia (late C8) 177 
Anthimus/Anthemius, governor of Amida 
(c.400) 54. 56 

ElOstrtya, governor of Dara (late C7) 90, 133, 

167, 201 
Elusfriya of Harran, governor of Samosata (late 

C7) i65f 
'lyad ibn Ghanm, Arab commander (fl. 640) 

154. 158 
John, Roman palrikios (fl. 567) 1 50 
Khalld ibn al-Walld. Arab general (C7) 158 n. 

Musa, son of Mus'ab, governor of 

Mesopotamia (fl. 774) 157, 177 
Musi, governor of Syria (fl. 774) 1 57 
Ptolemy, Roman palrikios of Mesopotamia (fl. 

639) 158 
Rufus/?Runnus. governor of Hesno d-KIfd 

(c.400) 54. 56 

hagiography 14, 24-6. 30, 33, 50, 54, 80. 82. 178, 
H (22); unreal character oftater 
hagiography 182-4 

Hazar gohi, lake Hurt, Byzantine castles on 165 n. 
131. 166 

health or the lack of it 36, 83. 89, 128. 132, 200. 
Table 3 (2, 5, 10, 23, 37); epidemic 76, 1 1 1 
n. 202, 117, 155-7. 183, 188, 214,216, 
Table 3 (42). H (23, 31, 32) 

holy men (see also: caves; stylites) 
AhO of Rlsh'ayno (d. c.560) 75, 93 n. 129, 127, 


Daniel of Aghtosh (d. 439) 30, 47, 74f, no n. 

Dodho of Stdhus. martyr 3tf. H (22) 
Jacob the Recluse, of Salah (d. 421) 54, no n. 

192, in 
John bar Aphtonia, founder of Qenneshre (d. 

537)24f, 75. 12m. 50 
John the Urtian (c.400) 74-6, 79 
MalVc of QIQzmo, nephew of MOr Awgin 14, 

17, 26, 33 ns. 2 and 3, 178 n. 255 
Maron, stylile in Ingilene io6f 
MorQtho, prophet (c.790) 174. 183 
Plrgushnasp, see Sovo 

Simeon the Stylite (d. 459) 25f. 38f. 77, 105, 1 13 
Sovo/Plrgushnasp, martyr 31 
Thomas, stylite of Telia (fl. 698) 9 1 
hostilities (see also: martyrs) 
Arab 7f, 158, 165-7. 181; Assyrian 1; Kurdish 7, 

1 1, H (7); Mongol H (7. 8); neighbourly 14, 
90, 168. H (3, 5, 32, 46); Persian 2, 6, % 

12, 21-3, 53, 1 17; Seljuk Turkish 7, 224, H 
(2); Tatar H (5) 

icons 85 n. 70, 101, 121. 134, 137-9. 169, H (7) 

incubatio ad sanctos 83, 99 n. [64 

individual and community 81. tiof, E.4(see also: 

diversity of vocation) 
insanity 93 with n. 1 29 
Islam, relations with 
adoption of Arab conventions i7of, 218; 

aggression by Muslims H3f, ts8f, 181. H 

Index 261 

(18. 36) (see also: hostilities); Arabic names 
22tf. G.1-3 and E-H. passim; conditions 
imposed is8f. 165-7. i7of. 177. i«5- H 
(18); continuity in religious practice 23. 
I35f; islamicization 28, 46 n. It. 185, E.5; 
negotiation I58f. I70f, 176. 182. 226. H (3, 

Jews 12. 78, 85, 117. 160. 164, Table 3 (34) 

canon 91. 93. 112 n. 210. 136. 178. 184/. 189. 
215. E.5; divine 84C 89. 138, H (1); 
monastic 75-7. 81. 84, 88, 92. 1 10, 159; 
Muslim, regarding Christian subjects I58f, 
[87. H {3, 18, 24); Roman 44, E.5 

basic literacy 25f, 161. 212. 221; calligraphy 75, 
189. 221, H (8. 50); education in the cities 
1 14, 162, H (29); monastic education 25 n. 
32, 76f. 114, t74f. 189; secular education 
162, 166, 189; studying habits at Qartmln 
Abbey H (1); training for the priesthood 
77, 22 1; village-schools 164, E.i, E.2, 221 

lexica, supplementary to the 
&U6 85-8; bitk shuroyt 46; eshkdry/Khd 82 n. 
53; (fast 21 1. E.4. H (Prayer); haykfo 46. 52 n. 
25. 124, 126; ^fAbrtf 120; Isifd- 203, 223, 
E.4; lydr 21 1; mawtvi d-ldMthd [20; minih 
wa-l-var 70; mrakkvdthd 120; nOqOshd 96; 
pOrskdnd 85; sa'drS 1 17 n. 30; skerydni 40; 
storittkd 94; Tahil 1 14; thrdnds 100 n. 167. 
I24f. 212,(5); \uriia 95 

liturgy 82-5, 93, 96, 119. 121, 126, 132. 135-7, 

214. H (17); 'heavenly bread" formula 177. 
180; (see also: commemoration, in liturgical 

looking-glass Syriac 208 

martyrs 23C 3if, 69. 78, Table 3 (i9f. 28, 39, 35) 
Melkites l62f. 166-8, 209 
metals H (5) 
bronze l, 72. I20f. 124, I26 r , H (2. 17) 
gold 1 19-21, 124, I26f, H (3. 24) 
iron 1. 89, i2of, Table 3 (46) H (2) 
silver t20f. 124, i26f, H (3. 24. 39) 
missionaries 26. 3of, 80, 89 n. 102, 92. 152, 164. 

Table 3 (7, 8, 40. 53) 
as the abode or diocese of bishops 23, 31 with n. 
69. 46 n. 1 1, 89. 95, 123. 133, t45. 150. 153. 
168, 171. I73f 
buildings in 41. 54, 3i. 87, 93C 186 
economy of 83, 93, 97. 187 
function 91, 93, 183 
individual monasteries: 
Aaron of SerQgh, near Melitene 52 
Abay Mihrahabuhr. at Qeieth 15. 21-4. 27, 46 

n. 11.76. 88f. 90, 136, 187.218 
Abhay. at Beth Man'em 136, 162. E.3 

Abraham of Kashkar. 00 Mount Bagokke 

116, 178 
Abraham and Abel, at Midyat 52 n. 25 
AhO, Bndyel, Dayro d-Fum. near Beth 

Man'em 7 n. 25, 226 
Ananias, Dayr al-Za'faran, the Saffron 

Monastery, near Mardln 52 a. 25. 88 n. 90. 

97. 100 n. 168. 122, I47f, 185 
Arbln, synod (736) " '6*. ,68 
Athanasius, AthOnos, at Tell Beshmay 179 
Awgin, near Nisibis 74 n. 7. n 2, 178 n. 257 
Bassus 150 n. 6 
Blzuno 180 n. 268 
'Abedh 181 n. 281 
Catherine, on Mt Sinai 52 n. 23, 80. 89. icof 

n3. 1 70-1 
Cross, at Define in Aiafiyya. near Hesno d- 

Klfo 52 n. 25. 
Cross, in Beth El 16, 18 n, 63, 31 n. 69, 93 n. 

129, 94. 9 6f . «55-7. 174. 177. 216, 222 
Daniel of AghlOsh 47. 49 
Dayr Mattaa. Dayr Robat, Kara Kilise, see 

Daniel of Aghlosh 
dayr vtajd* ra*s, 'migraine monastery', see 

Dayr al-Suryan, in Egypt A.3.1. G.5 (9) 
Dayr al-Za'faran, see Ananias 
DayrO d-Fum, see Abo 
DayrO da-ShgOro, see Aaron of Serugh 
Dayro da-§Ilvo, see Cross 
Elisha 107 n. 185 
Edessenes, at Amida 95 
Eusebius 150 n. 4 
Gabriel, see Qartmln Abbey 
GubO-Baroyo, in Cyrrhestia 175. 17S-80 
HananyO, see Ananias 
Harbaz, near Samosata 175 n. 231 
Jacob, in the mountain of Cyrrhus 181 
Jacob the Recluse, at Salah 50. 64, 100 n. 168. 

[31 n. 113, 149, 186, 206, 219, 221, G.4, H 

(43); conventual church 52 n. 25, 63 n. 59, 

64, 70, 131, 134. i86f, 2o6f, 213 
Jacob of Serflgh. at Beth Debeh G.5 (8) 
John bar Aphtonia, see Qenneshre 
John the Arab, near Nisibis 178 n. 257 
John, at #ab 187 n. 38, 203 
KafarTevno, at Harran 164 n. 120 
Lazarus, at Habsenus in TA t05f, i63f, (88, 


Malke, at Arkab in TA 4 n. 6, 29, 64, 93 n. 

129, 178, E.2 (see also: bishops. Beth 

Mary, the Mother of God. at Beth Svlrtnl H 

( 3> 
Mary, the Mother of God, in Egypt, see Dayr 

Mary, the Mother of God, in Jerusalem H 

Matlai, Matthew, near Mossut 150 n. 9, 1 53, 

165, 171. 175. '85 n. 19 



monasteries, individual {com.) 

Michael of the Pillar, at Mardln 211, 2i8f 
Moses, Mosa, near Kafarze 222 
Noffo. see YOldath Aloho d-NojfO 
Pillar, at Kallinikos 174 n. 224, 179 
Pillar, at Mardlo, see Michael 
Pslltho, at Kallinikos 153 
Qarqafto, near Mardln 176 
Qartmln Abbey passim; ascetic practices at 
65, 97-105; Banasymeon distinguished 
from 145; baptistery of I47f; bishop 
resident at 95. 133, 168; bishops trained at 
79, 114-17. isof, 160, 170, 176 with n. 236, 
177. 179. (80 with n. 281, i88f, 22t, 226; 
conventual church or 1 19-40; date or 
foundation 56-8; dependencies 1 14 n. 3, 
)62f; deserted for a time 71, H (5); 
economy of 94. 164, 173, 188, 214; imperial 
benefactions to 45-72, 1 13-48; inscriptions 
at 64C 69 a. 68. 71, 92, 94?. 145^ 20lf, 
214/, 224-6; legends attached to 37f, 60-2, 
145, 155I; names under which known 73, 
90, 1 36 (see also the Microfiche 
Supplement, Abbreviations etc.); original 
site 33-7; reason for present position 4, 
1 12; relations with other monasteries 153, 
170, 175C I78f. 181; relations with the 
patriarchate 155, I70f. 175-7. I79f, 181, 
189; size of community in 43, 101 n. 173; 
villages connected with, see: villages in TA, 
Beth Svlifna; hostilities, neighbourly 
Qeleth. see Abay 

Qenneshre, John bar Aphtonia, near Jerablus 
25. 75. 88f. 91, 94, 96, 150 n. 9, 170, 175, 
Saba, in Judaean desert 52 n. 23 
Saffron, see Ananias 
Samuel, at yah 58 n. 49 
Sergius and Bacchus, at Hah 217 
Sergius "d-fathyo\ in Commagene 88f, 189 
Shflo, near Mardln? 160 n. 92, 163, G.5 (2) 
Shorgln, in TA 54, 57 
Simeon, see Qartmln Abbey 
Simeon the Slylile, near Anlioch 147 
Tell 'Eda, near Antioch 25 n. 32, t i4f 
Theodotos, 'dayr wajar rats', at Qeleth 49f, 

Thomas, at Seleucia on the Orontes 25, 75 
Yoldath Alohod-NOtfO, near Mardln I22f 
Zakay, near Kallinikos 83 n. 54, 87 
ZQqnln, at Amida 83, 88, 151 
monastic ranks 
abbot {rlshdayrd, risk 'iimrd) 75-7, 81. 84, 87. 
89C 92, 94-7, 185, 201, 207-8, 2J5f, 2t9. 

abbot's household {d-bith mQry) 82f 
administrator (pamdsd) 94-7. 215, 216 
bishop in loco abbatis 95, [68, 173 
chief htbdomadarii (rbkay skabt) 82 
duty-monks or htbdomadarii {shabihdyi) 82, 93 

elder (*Jw») 82, 87, 89, 96. 215 

guestmaster, none attested 83 

head of table {rish pdihurd) 82 

head of the elders {rish sdvS) 85 

head of the unpriested monks or 'brothers' {rtsh 

aki) 89, 94-6, t57f, 2t 5f 
monk, brother {dayrdyd, ahd) 82, 94-6, 219 
pries led monk {dayrdyd w-adshlshd) 82, 92, 95, 

!57. 219 

sacristan (qHnkhdyd) 94, 96, 21 5, 2 1 9 

steward {rObbayid) 8 1 f, 94, 96. 2 1 5 

'visitor' or 'executive' {s&urd) 82, 90, 92, 97 n. 
mosaics 97 n. 160, 120-2, 125-7, 137-40 
Moses of Anbel (c. 700) to, 162. 169, 176 
mountains and regions 

Aghldsh xix, 6, 8 

! AmrIn2lf, 26 _ 

Anzilene, Beth Orfoye 75f. 165. 167 

Arzanene, Arzon xix, xxii. 4, 6 n. t6, 115 

Athos 28, 88 n. 90, 96 n. 155, roi n. 171 

Ayshumo xix, 6, 22, 74 n. to, 175 n. 227, 183 

Belus 109 

Beth 'Araboye 6, 12 n. 55, 163 

Beth El, in TA 174,216 

Beth Garmay 1 14 

Beth Gawgal 28f. 74. 1 isf. 146 

Beth Muhallam, in TA 178 n. 255 

Beth RIshe, in TA 178 n. 255 

Cappadocia 88 

Claudia, Qlawdiya 79, 81, 88, 9of. 165 n. 131, 
[66 n. 140, 187 

Corduene, Beth Qardwoye, Qardu xix, 6, 80, 
H4n. 5. [46, 158, 179 

Cyrrhestia. Beth Krosfoye [81 


Edessa94n. 139 

Elim xix 

Ergani, Arqnln 166 

Gawgalion, see Beth Gawgal 

Ingilene 81, 83, 88. I [6 n. 24 

Izala, Izld xix. xxii, 5, 8. 95, 109, 146, 178 n. 255 

Kantja, see Ayshumo 

Mardln 7 

Masius, Kashyari xix, 1, 28, 109 n. 189 

Melabas, Malbash xix, 5 n. 7 

Mesopotamia 7, n, 12 n. 55, 74 n. 8, I22f, rjif, 
158, [67,170-2 

Osrhoene 152, I7if 

Qorosxix, 21 

Segestan 176 

Sinai Table 3 (3) (see also: monasteries, 

Singara, SinjAr 7, lion. 196, 146. 153, 163, 171 


Taurus 8 

Tor 'Abdln passim; alternative spelling of 28 n. 
46, 93 n. [26, 1 13 n. 2, 189, 217. (2); Arab 
conquest of t58f; bishops of chiefly from 
Qartmln Abbey 180; disputes over 


episcopal succession in 168, [71; earliest 
known bishop of 78; earliest record of 78; 
meaning of name 28; revenues attached to 
see of 173; topographical connotation xix- 
xxii, H (22) 
Zabdicene, Beth Zabday xix. 154A 158. 179 n. 
mysticism 179, 184, [89 

Nestorians 4 n. 6, 89. 93. 1 35 n. 133, 137. 152. 
[66. !78f, 189 

paganism 28-36, 40, 58, 78. no, 127, Table 3 (7. 

3°f. 33) 
paint 72, 139, 206-8, H (21) (see also: books. 

Palmer, Stephen Roundel I 206 
patriarchs of Constantinople 
John Chrysostom (398-404) 57, 77, 105. Table 3 

Sisinnius (426-7) I54f 
Neslorius (428-31) 10, 73n 
Flavian (446-9) 1 17 n. 27 
Macedonius (expelled 51 1) 1 18 
Timothy (511-18) 118 
patriarchs (Syr. Orth.) 
Severus (d. 538) to, 1 16, 1 18, 128, [65, 189 
Julian 1 (C6) 12, 160, 176 
Paul of Beth Ukome (C6) 175 
Peter of Kallinikos (d. 591) 175 
Athanasius I (594-631) 25, [52f, 159 n. 90, 182 
John 1(631-48) 175 
Theodore (d. 666/7) 89 
Severus bar Mashqe (667-80) 155, 171, 175 
Athanasius II (683/4-87) 175 n. 226 
Julian II 164 

Elijah (709-24) 160. 165. 175 
Athanasius III (724-39/40) 175, 203 
Athanasius [V Sandloyo. semi-canonical (d. 

758) 10. I2f. 169-80 passim. H 221, H (50) 
|saac, uncanonical (755-6) 170, 172. 209f 
iwanls (also Yohanls) (d. 755) 1 69-80 passim, 

George of B'eltan (758/9-790) 95, 162, 174-83 

passim, 215-17 
John, anti-patriarch (c.760) I76f 
David, antt-patiarch (d. 774) 172-8 passim, 183 
Cyriac (793~* ' 7) 77. 178-84 passim 
Joseph, semi -canonical? (790-1) 179 
Denis I of Tcll-Mahrt (818-45) 9. •«. '57. 

169-71, 177, i8of 
Abraham, anti-patriarch (d. 837) tSi 
John III (846-73} 10 
Theodosius Romanus (887-96) 179, 184, t88f, 

217, 219 
Denis II (896/7-908/9) 221 
Denis III (957-61) 189 
Athanasius V Salfedyo (986-1002/3) 
Denis IV (1031-42) 221 
Khalaf(d. 1483) H(l8) 

Index 263 

John bar Shayallah (d. 1493) 2 3 n - ' 7- 4^ °- ' '* 

64, H(i8) 
Shukrallah (fl. 1724) H (34) 
Ignatius Jacob II (late C19) 69 n. 68 
patriarchs, other 
Cyril, of Alexandria (412-44) 57, 159 
Dioscorus, of Alexandria (444-51; d, 454) 10, 

Ephrem, of Antioch. Chalcedonian (from 527) 
16, [46 
patronage, see: benefactors 
Persian shahs 
Shabuhr II (309-79) 93 
Kawad I (488-531) 53, 134 
Khusrd II (590-626) I52f. Table 3 (4) 

relics (see also: burial) 85, 90C 124, Table 3 (32), 

H (22); exhumation of 72. 155, (46); of 

martyrs 32. 36, 68f, (7. 22); of Philoxenos 

of Mabbogh 66, 1 1 3f 
religion, relation between farming and, see: 

ring as religious symbol 84 
Arsenias, Arslnos. Marat 54, 167 
Batman, see Nymphios 
Bokhtan3t n. 67 
Euphrates 7. 25, 52, 75, 81. 88f, 109, 166. 172, 

Gehenna 4, H (22) 
Harbd xix, [54, 156, [86 
Minnas [07 

Jaghjagh(a), see Hirmas 
KhabQr 109 
Mygdonius 4 n. 6 
Nymphios 4f 
Orontes 25, 75 
Saryo 179 n. 258 
Tigris 4-37 passim, 88, 90, 113. 153. 158, [68f. 

173. 176, 179 0. 258, t8o. 189, 225. Table 3 


secular leaders in Tor 'AbdTn, see also: governors 
Abraham (fl. 683/4) 6, 162 
Lazarus (of Anh"el?) (fl. 683/4) 6, 162 
George, son of Lazarus of Anhel (early C8) 1 62 
Gabriel of Anhel (fl. 718/19) [62 
RQmI of TA (fl. 750/1) 7, 162 n. [06 
Haythum, governor (of TA?) (fl. 971/2) 7 
social hierarchy 
aristocratic connections at Dara and Edessa 
169, 201 f, 209; bishop's appeal to the rich 
in time of want 1 17; Christians in office 
under the Arabs 166-8; relations between 
limiianei and peasants 54f; role of monks as 
friends of the poor 83C 89, [09, 183; social 
background of saints 24-6, 31, 36; social 
distinctions in a monastery 76; social 
distinctions in a village 161 n. 102. i86f, 
2o6f.22i,E.4, H(3, 33) 

264 Index 

sources of water, or the tack of (hem 27f with n. 

40. 78, 109. 112, 185, Tabic 3 (24f. 41). 

A.3.2 (t6) 
stylites etc. (see also: caves; holy men) 
stylites 77, 79C 91, 105-7. 1 13. 184, 188. 2t7f, 

Table 3 (6. 12), H (3, 43. 44) 
hermits 27, 53. Sj, 102-5, t83f. Table 3 (17, 38C 

Naziriles or 'mourners' 8sf, 92 
recluses within a cocnobium 65, 86-8, 91, 

97-100, 159 
superstition 53, 84f, 106, 182, 200 
Arbln (736) 162. 168 
Chalcedon (451) xxii, 10, 58, 74, 85, 144-6, 171 

n. 188 
Ephesus (43 1 ) 77, Table 3 ( 1 8) 
Ephesus II (449) 73, 78 
Gubrfn (807/8) 18 1 
Mabbugh (759) 174. 176 
Mantnken (726) 160 
Shllo, Mor (706) 160 n. 92. 163, G.5 (2) 
Telia (752) I72f 

taxation, see: administration 

Theodore of TA, Roman field-commander (C7) 8 

tonsure 84, 93 

tradition, local I7 r , 22, 24, 27, 30. 51. 56, 74, 77, 
159. 225 

travel 36, 81, 85-90, 109 with n. 189. ijof, 158. 
162, H (1); hospitality ;6. 55, 83. 1 uf, 
2t2f, 226, H (18, 24); mobility of monks 
25C 8of, 86f, 91, 93 n. 128. 175 n. 227; 
pilgrimage 55, 60, 115, 147. 2t2f. E.5. H 
(13, 18, 24, 26, 27); routes if, 5, 112. 114; 
transportation 25 n. 32, 36, l63f 

villages in Tur 'Abdln and environs (see also: 
cities; castles; churches; mountains and 

Ahlah, Halah 29 n. 53 

Ambar 135, 137, 142, 144 

Anhel xxii, 69. 176, 213; secular capital of TA 


Arbo E.2, H (16, 19, 25) (see also: bishops, Beth 

Arkah, Kharabali 28 n. 41, 29, 33 n. 3, 64 
Arnas. 'Urdnus 174, 209? 
Awsar, Osar 179 n. 258, G.4 
'Aynwardo 28 n. 41, 163 
Azakh. Idil xix. 7. 29. 139, 155 n. 41. 178, 179 n. 

Badibbe, see Beth DeWh 
Beioudaes, see Fafi 
Beth Debeh, Beth Diyupe, Badibbe 28 n. 41, 

133. 163. iM. 2»4. 225, G.5 (4 and 8). H 

Beth Diyupe, see Beth Debeh 
Beth Man'em 7, 22 n. 7, 28 a. 41. 162, 224f 
Beth Svlrtna 7, 55. 93 (cf. H (3)). 188 n. 39 (cf. 

H (3)); relation to Qartmln Abbey 9f, i8f, 
28 with n. 43, 1 14 n. 5. 224-6. E-H passim, 
esp. E-i and E.3 

Beth Zabday, Bezabde xix, t54f, 158. 179 n. 258 


Eshtln/Meshtln? 2of, 24, 26, 46, G.5 (18: 
correction of p. 20) 

Eshtriko, see Hcshterek 

Espes, see Hespis 

EsUr, see Sari 

Fafi. Fafa, Fafeh, Beioudacs 2, 3, 1 52 n. 25, G.5 

Ftl, Fir G.5 (20) 

Fofyath. Kafarbe 212-15, E.i. (8, 23, 29. 35) 

Gozarto d-ShQ'o 78, Table 3 (8) 

Habscnus 28 n. 41, 100 n. 166, i6off, 217 

Hah, Nyohto 4, 28 n. 41, 29, 31, 109 n. 189, 
1 68. 220, 224, 226; ecclesiastical capital of 
TA xxii, 31. 149, 153, 174, 225; relation to 
Qartmln Abbey 15. 31, 58, 155 (see also: 
bishops; churches; monasteries) 

rjal^h. see Ahlah 

Haidab 29 n. 53 

Harbath TOtho Table 3 (32) 

Hespis, Hespist. Hiaspis, Espes 4, 32, H (22) 


Idil, see Azakh 

i-san, see san 

Kafarbe, see Fofyath 

Kafarbaran 134 

Kafar Gawzo. GercQs xxii 

Kafar Gawson 54 

Kafarsalte H (3) 

Kafarshima' G.5 (15) 

KafartQtho 154^ 158 

Kafarze, Kafarzl 28 n. 41. 52 n. 25, 135, 164, 

207 n. 2,211-13. 222, H (7) 
Kfar-, see Kafar- 
Kharabali, see Arkah 
Klvakh. Klbakl 1, 5, 29C 34 
M'art, M'arln 21 n. 3, 178 n, 255 
Mayoqartre 28 n. 40 
Meshtln, see Eshtln 
MIdQn 5 n. 7, 218 
Midyat, Matiate, Medhyadh xxii. 20, 28f, 52 n. 

25. 77. 109 n. 189. 1 13, 136, 147 n. :8i 
MorbobO H (36) 
Mzlzah 29 n. 53. 100 
N drub 94 

OUn 16, 156, G.5 (19, 25) 
Qaluq G-5 (21) 
Qartmln 4. [5, 22, 28 with n. 40, 37, 41. 49, 90, 

215, 225 
Qeleth xix, 20-3, 27f, 49f, 74, 76, 88, 90, 1 68. 

187, 218 
Saiah xxii, 28-30, 50, 54, 100, I u, 149. 174. 

i86f. 206T, 2iSf, 221, 224 (see also: 

Sart, Esttr, Us&rt 29, H (3) 
Sawro xix, 20-24, 46. 107, 225 

Index 265 

SlghQn [6, 156 
Solachon 152 n. 25 
TanezJn, Janti 31, Table 3 (28) 
Tell Beshmay, Telbesme 13, 170, 179. 186 n. 22 
Zaz 1. t8 n. 63, 29, 30 n. 55, 156, 216. 218, H 

weights and measures 41. 43, 124, 140, H (:) 

widower-priests as monks 209, 222 

wildlife 96, 1 1 tf. 214. Table 3 (1. 44), H (5) 

wine, see: agriculture 

women 15, 26, 89, 106, i67f, Table 3(15, 23), E.2 

E.4. H (3, 13, 17, 22, 32. 35. 36. 42. 45) («* 
also: churches/monasteries, Mary, the 
Mother of God); disposing of own funds 
133. i67f. 20lf, H (13, 22) (contrast 207); 
illiterate 2! 2; names given to G.3; 
separated from men 132, 135. 187; sexual 
partners for men 15. 54, 84. 92 n. 117. 127. 
178. Table 3 (26), A.3.2 (6t), H (3); sisters 
26. 218. H (42); virgins 8], 92f, 167, 218, 
A.3.2 (24). H (3) 

zodia, of Ezekiel's vision I24f, 137